Sunday, 30 June 2013

EDL arrests, Purcell/Purssell and the Palestinian bulldozer death of Rachel Corrie in 2003

Richard Purssell - from the 2009
Guardian article
After the fairly pointless assault on Tommy Robinson/Stephen Yaxley-Lennon and Kevin Carroll during the pair's tawdry publicity stunt yesterday, there is speculation across many blogs and on several far right website as to the identity of the assailants.  Several websites name one of the assailants as Richard Purcell (sic), who runs a left wing collective social club - the Cowley Club - in Brighton.

If it was Mr Purcell - which is properly spelled  Purssell - then his history is interesting, although having seen the limited photographic evidence, we remain unconvinced that they are the same people, and the police do not appear to have released their names.

Allegedly Richard Purssell - from the
Brighton anti fascist march in April
Still, if it is him, he does have some previous. Speaking in a Guardian article in 2009 he complains of
police surveillance and speaks of his attendance at the DSEI arms fair in 2005 where he was allegedly followed and harassed by police. The article features a picture of Purssell which is reproduced here.

The Casuals United blog - something which should be read with gritted teeth and which makes you want to donate a spell check program - features a picture which matches the image in the Guardian article, but which they state was taken during an anti-fascist demo in Brighton in April. 

The assailant from yesterdays fiasco
Are these two pictures the same person as the one caught on video attacking Robinson/Yaxley-Lennon and Carroll yesterday? You decide. There is certainly a superficial resemblance.

If it is - and others will have to decide - then he has an interesting history. The Guardian article linked above lists his occupation as 'landscape gardener', while the spelling of his surname is unusual, and explains the mis-spellings on several far right websites.

The only other Richard Purssell who has appeared in the news in recent years was also a landscape gardener from Brighton. This Richard Purssell was in Gaza, Israel and was present at the death of British activist Rachel Corrie when she was run over by a bulldozer driven by an Israeli soldier. Both Corrie and Purssell were members of the International Solidarity Movement. The ISM has been accused of having close links with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and have been accused of deliberately sacrificing the lives of young western activists in order to gain press coverage for their cause. According to another Guardian article:

"Purssell, a Briton, now working as a landscape gardener, said he volunteered with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) to witness events in the occupied Palestinian territories for himself. In Rafah he had been hoping to prevent the Israeli military from demolishing Palestinian homes. The organisation was strictly non violent, he said. "Our role was to support Palestinian non-violent resistance.""

Is this the same man - this time at the
UKIP Hove meeting?
In the documentation surrounding several of the legal actions to which this incident gave rise, Purssell is described as being from Brighton. What is the significance of this? There isn't any really, other than a wider understanding of who the people involved in the UAF and their allies are. There is also the possibility that Purssell was present at the demonstration outside a recent UKIP meeting in Hove, where self-proclaimed anti-fascists heckled blood donors, mistaking them for attendees at the UKIP meeting. Once again, the available images are not clear, and you must decide for yourselves.

None of this indicates support for either side - the EDL, Robinson/Yaxley-Lennon, Carroll, UAF, the International Solidarity Movement or Purssell. Our view on yesterdays events have always been clear - the EDLs efforts were a tawdry attempt to hijack publicity on Armed Forces Day, while the anti-fascists opposing them were no better than the thugs they claimed to be protesting against and helped the EDL gain unwarranted publicity, particularly through the actions of Purssell and his as yet un-named colleague. 

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