Socialist Worker

EDL Stoke rampage must never happen again

by Viv Smith
Issue No. 2186

Supporters of the anti-Muslim English Defence League in Stoke on Saturday (Pic:» Guy Smallman )

Supporters of the anti-Muslim English Defence League in Stoke on Saturday (Pic: » Guy Smallman)

More than 1,200 supporters of the English Defence League (EDL) went on a violent rampage through Hanley in Stoke-on-Trent, last Saturday.

Football hooligans, known fascists and anti-Muslim fanatics gathered in the city centre.

Hundreds of local people also joined the EDL brawl.

The British National Party (BNP) has hidden its support for previous EDL demonstrations. But this time leading party members, local and national, openly took part.

On Friday night the words “Islam Scum” and “EDL” were daubed on the walls of a mosque in the Normacot area.

And at the end of the demonstration hundreds of EDL supporters swept through an Asian area attacking homes, shops and cars.

This was clearly a national mobilisation for the EDL.

There were reports that transport came from the barracks of the Mercian regiment.

As the EDL gathered, supporters chanted, “Muslim bombers off our streets.” But within a few hours it had become unquestionably racist. “If you hate all Pakis clap your hands”, they shouted.

Weyman Bennett, joint secretary of Unite Against Fascism said, “EDL supporters attacked black and Asian people – and whites who they claim are race traitors.

“This must never happen again. Racist and fascist thugs taking to the streets in such large numbers must be met with a mass movement that can drive them back into the sewer.”

The violence was aided by the large turnout of organised “football hooligans”.

The EDL’s main financial backer, Alan Lake, says they are a mass “that gets off their backsides and travels to a city and they are available before and after matches.”

On Saturday EDL supporters ripped planks of wood and masonry from nearby buildings. They repeatedly attempted to attack anti-fascists, hurling bricks, firecrackers and bottles.

The police had arrested 17 people by Tuesday morning. Seven men have been charged, the majority with racially or religiously aggravated disorder offences. Those charged came from Cheshire, Yorkshire, Lancashire and Birmingham.

On Saturday’s demonstration photojournalist Guy Smallman was hit by two bottles. He said, “We regularly see police surveillance teams on non-confrontational anti-war protests, but here they kept their distance.

“Most disturbing of all was the police’s apparent willingness to allow around 600 EDL supporters to march unaccompanied into a mixed residential area where they proceeded to smash cars and shop windows.”

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.