Socialist Worker

Racist EDL forced off streets of Swansea

by Seb Cooke
Issue No. 2174

A Welsh Defence League supporter makes a Nazi salute in Swansea last Saturday (Pic: Prusakolep from flickr.com)

A Welsh Defence League supporter makes a Nazi salute in Swansea last Saturday (Pic: Prusakolep from flickr.com)


People in Swansea were shocked and disgusted by racist thugs taking to their city’s streets too last Saturday.

The so-called “Welsh Defence League” (WDL)—a replica of the English Defence League—had descended on the city to rally, burn banners and make Nazi salutes.

But over 600 anti-fascists were there to stop them, including students from colleges and universities, trade unionists, local politicians and anti-fascists from across South Wales.

As people gathered they heard speeches by Weyman Bennett from Unite Against Fascism (UAF), Welsh Assembly member Leanne Wood and Unite union convenor Rob Williams.

They spoke of the need to show unity against the BNP and their marching allies in the Defence Leagues.

People’s spirits were lifted with stories about beating the Nazis when they last showed up in Swansea, and how Dylan Thomas, the Swansea poet, had fought against Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists in the 1930s.

Young people led chants of “Nazi scum, off our streets”, and a local samba band played to the growing crowd.

By 2pm, groups of WDL thugs had began to gather outside a pub nearby.

They wanted to march into the square and take it over to hold a racist rally against Muslims—but that never happened.

People had come to defend their streets from the Nazis. The anti-fascist crowd gained a new sense of urgency.

At around 3.30pm, the police allowed the WDL to hold a demo outside the square. People ran towards the racists chanting, and suddenly the Nazis were surrounded, protected by police.

As the WDL jeered at the crowd and made Nazi “sieg heil” salutes, our numbers grew.

A woman in the flat above where the WDL were gathered was obviously angry that racist thugs were outside her home.

She hung an anti-Nazi banner from her window. People cheered the fact that the racists were isolated not just in numbers, but also in their fascist ideas.

A supporter of the WDL climbed up the wall and ripped the banner down. It was thrown on the ground and burned. In clouds of black smoke WDL supporters made Nazi salutes and cheered.

This is who they are. This is their version of “free speech”.

At 5pm they were surrounded by police and herded away. We ran down to the square for a victory rally. People were elated.

The message was clear—we won. Swansea now joins Birmingham, Harrow and Manchester in the growing fight against the thugs of the BNP and the defence leagues. That’s a fight that needs to grow.


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Tue 20 Oct 2009, 19:31 BST
Issue No. 2174
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