A neo-Nazi activist who announced plans to hold an anti-Semitic rally through London's Stamford Hill neighborhood – home to Europe's largest Orthodox Jewish community – has been arrested by police over abusive comments sent to a Jewish Labor party MP on Twitter.
22-year-old Joshua Bonehill was arrested on suspicion of sending malicious communications to Luciana Berger, who has been the target of a sustained online anti-Semitic hate campaign by neo-Nazis.
A statement by London's Metropolitan Police confirmed an arrest had been made in connection to the abuse, but did not name the suspect, saying only that "Officers investigating allegations of malicious communications sent to a Member of Parliament via a social-media network have arrested a man. He was bailed to a west London police station until the end of March."
Police in Bonehill's home town of Yoevil confirmed a resident of the town had been arrested as well on charges of "inciting racial hatred."
Later, Bonehill himself confirmed he had been arrested, and said he was "completely shocked and traumatised by the incident" in his personal blog.
Significantly, he also claimed that the bail conditions set by authorities would prevent him traveling inside the M25 motorway, which essentially encircles London, until the end of March. If true, those conditions would prevent him from traveling to the site of his "Liberate Stamford Hill" protest against what he termed "the Jewification" of the UK, which he announced for March 22nd.
Once described as "moronic" by a judge, after he broke into a police station while drunk to steal uniforms, Bonehill has a long record of petty criminal offenses. He is also known for not following through on many of his declared "campaigns", leading some to note that with a number of criminal cases pending he may have never had any intention of attending the anti-Jewish march at all.
In any event, Jewish and anti-fascist campaigners have said they will conduct a "peaceful counter-demonstration" if the Nazi rally does go ahead despite the arrest.
Speaking to the UK's Independent, the Community Security Trust (CST) anti-Semitism watchdog said it welcomed the arrest "and hope this puts an end to his supposed march in Stamford Hill."
"We’re pleased to see hate on social media is being taken seriously by the authorities," a CST spokesman added.