A racist yob who performed a Nazi salute at a Manchester rally against antisemitism has been jailed.
Hundreds of people, including MPs and the UK’s chief Rabbi, were among those taking part in the demonstration in the city centre in September.
However, a court heard Joseph Brogan, 27, performed the ‘outrageous and provocative’ gesture in front of them as well as shouting antisemitic tropes.
He claimed he was ‘just expressing his views about Zionism’ but has now been jailed for six months by a judge who said racism of this kind needed to be ‘nipped in the bud.’
Those taking part in the rally were stood in Cathedral Gardens when Brogan approached them, William Donnelly, prosecuting said.
He was heard to shout ‘child killers’ and ‘you people don’t live in Israel.’
“That was then accompanied by him making the Nazi salute, with his extended arm as he walked past and made those comments,” Mr Donnelly said.
He was seen by two security staff who quickly alerted police and he was apprehended at the scene, as captured by the M.E.N’s photographer.
In his police interview he said he was just ‘expressing his view on Zionism’ and that they were ‘just his opinions’ and that he had freedom of speech, Mr Donnelly added.
He said he didn’t remember making the gesture and that if he did he must have done ‘in the heat of the moment.’
However Shirlie Duckworth, defending, said he now accepted that his freedom of speech ‘was not his absolute right’ and that he had caused upset and offence.
She said: “He didn’t attend that rally with the sole aim of causing that offence.
“He was in the city centre and having seen the rally decided to express his opinions on zionism.
“He was now accepts, by way of his plea, his freedom of speech is not an absolute right and that his behaviour caused people harassment, alarm or distress.
“These people were not attending a Zionist rally but an antisemitism rally.
“His actions were not pre-planned, they were impulsive, and although significant were limited in effect as he was quickly dealt with by the police.”
She added he was a high-valued employee at a catering firm and a reference was read by his mum who said ‘you couldn’t ask for a better son’ as he was helping her support his dad, who has bladder cancer.
Brogan, of Lees Street, Gorton pleaded guilty at the magistrates court to a racially aggravated public order offence.
He already has two other convictions for similar offences, the court was told.
And sending him to prison for six months Judge Martin Rudland said a message needed to be sent that, especially in the current climate, behaviour like this wouldn’t be tolerated.
Passing sentence at Manchester Crown Court he said: “This was targeted specifically at members of the Jewish community at a rally which was lawfully convened in this city.
“Antisemitism is an issue currently for those in authority, not only those in charge of law and order but those in charge of political parties.
“This country has a proud history of tolerance and harmony, and by and large we are good at it.
“There have been difficult times for some minorities and these are difficult times for members of the Jewish community, who have a long and fine tradition of contributing to the fabric of this city.
“What you did was express views which are highly offensive and which you must have known were highly offensive.
“Resorting to the Nazi salute which is an extremely provocative gesture and which has no place in our society, to a community who were peacefully demonstrating, is something the courts must take extremely seriously. It was outrageous.”
“This kind of behaviour must be nipped in the bud.”