From Dover to Dundee, activists are mobilising to go to Bolton on Saturday 20 March to stop the racist English Defence League (EDL) from rioting.
Unite Against Fascism (UAF) has organised a national demonstration for the day against the EDL.
Dave Sherry, the secretary of Unite union Scottish housing branch, is helping organise coaches from Scotland.
Dave said, “Our union branch is affiliated to UAF. We want to get as many trade unionists to Bolton as possible. We stopped the Scottish Defence League when they tried to march in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
“The EDL rioted in Stoke in February, attacking Asians. They want to use violence to terrorise and divide our communities.
“The trade union movement can’t let that happen.”
Anti-racists have booked close to 50 coaches for Bolton. “So far we have people coming from Whitstable, Canterbury and Medway,” Kent activist Bunny La Roche told Socialist Worker.
Medway Trades Council is helping sponsor the transport.
“EDL supporters organise around the Gillingham football club and have attended all of the EDL’s race riots,” said Bunny.
“So we have organised mass leafleting of the football ground, which has been well received.”
Sarah Cox was central to organising the protest against the EDL when they came to protest outside the Harrow mosque in London last year.
“People came from all over to show solidarity with anti-racists in Harrow,” said Sarah. “Now we want show our solidarity with the people of Bolton.”
Activists have been running stalls, leafleting and speaking to different organisations across Bolton and Greater Manchester to build for the demonstration.
Leah, a student from Manchester University, told Socialist Worker, “I’m going because I think it’s important to make it as difficult as possible for the EDL to promote their racist views.”.
“If we can outnumber them in Bolton it will discourage them from demonstrating again.”
Mike Killian, a UAF activist from Manchester, told Socialist Worker that EDL and British National Party members tried to disrupt an anti-fascist stall in Manchester city centre last Saturday.
“Some shouted abuse,” said Mike. “But it got us support—people took fistfuls of leaflets to give out at work and college.
“We did stalls all over Manchester and got loads of names for coaches.”
Manchester Trades Council is supporting the Bolton protest and has sent a letter to all its member trade unions asking them to advertise it widely.
Wigan Unison union has voted to support the protest and Alan Manning, the TUC’s regional secretary in the north west of England, has said the EDL are not welcome in Bolton.
UAF supporters are running stalls every Saturday in Bolton town centre to build for the protest. Rhetta Moran, who was on the stall last Saturday, told Socialist Worker, “There was a real buzz. There is awareness about the EDL coming to town and what it will mean.
“We had black and Asian students helping out alongside trade unionists, and we got a good response.
“Some of the street cleaners spoke to us after their shift and agreed to take flyers in to their depot. Asian taxi drivers have agreed to distribute the flyers.”
The Bolton Interfaith Council and Bolton Against Racism have issued a statement opposing the EDL protest.
Bolton Against Racism and UAF are calling for people to come into the town centre on
20 March to reject the racism of the EDL.
Just over 32,000 people voted in a Bolton Evening News online poll to oppose the EDL march.
Everyone opposed to racism and fascism should turn out to drive the EDL scum off the streets.