Police and media are reporting that there were some skirmishes when the EDL broke away from their control at the end of the rally, but that this has now been contained.
The police further report eight arrests on the day, and one person injured.
Some local people clapped UAF coaches as they left town.
The unity and determination of the 1,500 people on the anti-EDL protest was extremely positive. It was very good to see large numbers of Asian and black people on the anti-EDL rally.
But the fact that the EDL was able to mobilise as many as 1,500 to 2,000 people is another warning of the potential for their growth.
And they came dangerously close to rampaging through the town.
The EDL is committed to a series of future demonstrations. The whole labour movement needs to organise against them and their virulent racism.
We need to continue to build a stronger and broader movement against the EDL and the BNP – on the streets, and in workplaces and communities, as well as stopping their electoral advance in places such as Barking and Stoke.
We also need a positive socialist alternative to their politics of division and hatred.
At a time of economic crisis the fascists will always try to grow. There can be no complacency about the threat they pose.
The anti-EDL rally has ended. Groups of EDL supporters are roaming around and there is a clear potential for violence.
Update on the EDL: They gathered at a bypass outside the town centre and there were scuffles with police as their numbers swelled. Some in the crowd threw bottles at police, but there appears to have been no arrests.
Later police took over 1,000 EDL to a car park on the edge of the town centre. The EDL supporters made repeated efforts to break out to get into the town centre, but they failed.
One of their speakers at a rally claimed that the EDL was not racist before going on to say Islam was to blame for “incestuous marriage”, “promotion of paedophilia” and “noise pollution from minarets”. She added that 'either you are British, or you are not. And if you are not, it’s time to get out!”
Another 200 young Asians have joined the rally chanting, “Whose streets? Our streets!”. The police are threatening the anti-racists with arrest if they do not retreat from their positions.
But the rally remains united and determined to prevent the EDL from rampaging through the town.
On their own web-coverage the EDL can be heard saying, “This is waiting to kick off big style”, but so far they been unable to launch the intimidatory march they wanted.
The mood at the anti-racist rally in Dudley is fantastic. There are over 1,000 people listening to speeches, chanting and singing.
Meanwhile, the EDL have clashed with police and have been fighting amongst themselves.
The UAF and Dudley Trades Council protest is a symbol of the unity and solidarity in Dudley.
Weyman Bennett, joint secretary of UAF, told the rally, “I want to involve all of you in a conspiracy – our conspiracy is this public demonstration.
“We are demonstrating because when someone tries to tell us how and when and where we can go or where we can gather or where we can worship then we say its not up to you – its not up to the EDL or BNP.
“When the BNP say they are standing in elections we say you don't represent us, you represent the politics of Hitler and Mussolini. We want fascism and the EDL put into the dustbin of history.
“Today they demand an end to the building of mosques – it used to be synagogues.
“For the past 30 years Britain has looked as diverse and united as we do in this square-and we are going to keep it that way.
“We are in this square because people have been attacked and murdered for being part of a multiracial society.
“We say never again will we go back to the dark days when people looked over their shoulders in fear.
“We are the majority-we say we don't want racist and fascists to make the decisions in our society.”
Nahella Ashraf, from Manchester Stop the war Coalition, said, “There is a reason we are here [in the town centre] and the EDL is gatherng three miles away. We are the voice of the majority – we stand shoulder to shoulder – black and white, Muslim, Christian, Jew and atheist.
“In Stoke not enough people came out and the EDL ran riot. We say never again!
Qumer Ahmed, 18, from Burnley is one of the anti-fascist demonstrators. He said, “I took part in the protest in Bolton two weeks ago. It was my first demonstration. The police were very rough, especially against Muslims.
“Now I''m even more determined to be involved.
“I helped organise a coach from Burnley to Dudley. We leafleted Friday prayers and did stalls in town. We cannot allow the EDL to get the confidence to smash up the society which has taken a huge effort to build.”
Martin Smith from Love Music Hate Racism told the rally, “We are here to defend Dudley from the EDL thugs. Anti-racists and anti-fascists should not be criminalised for standing up to the EDL.
“The way the police have behaved towards anti-fascists, and the way they have treated Asian youth in particular, is a disgrace. We have every right to protest. Wherever the EDL tries to bring violence we will help defend the local communities.
“The EDL is united by a vicious hatred towards Muslims. After Stoke the EDL said they wanted us to be cowering and afraid to come out to protest against them. But look at us today – we are on the streets and part of protecting this community.”
Steve Bell from the Communication Workers Union told the rally, “Greetings from our general secretary Billy Hayes speaking on behalf of 230,000 workers. We fully support the work of UAF.
“We campaign against racism and fascism here and around world. We want to live in communities without fear. The EDL are violent fascists and racists. They want violence against Muslims today but tomorrow it could be Sikhs, Jamaicans. Bigotry is never satisfied – today Islamophobia, tomorrow antisemitism.
“Their allies are the BNP. We defend the right of all races, nationalities and faiths to live here free of fear. We have unity in our diversity and we have to keep fighting.
“Politicians insist immigration is a problem, but it is an essential part of our society and has always been. Taking in asylum seekers and people fleeing persecution is the mark of a civilised society.
“I am from a white working class family – but today my family includes Jamaicans, Irish, Ghanaians and Thai. So the BNP and EDL who want an all-white Britain want to destroy our families and communities.”
Hanja Ibrahim Sesay, from the NUS black students campaign said, “We represent over 1 million students. Asian students constantly face Islamophobia and racism. I'm from Bradford where the EDL wants to march. We say to the government they must not be allowed.
“We remember the anniversary of the 1999 Soho, Brixton and Brick Lane bombings by fascist David Copeland this month. We must not let such events happen again.”
Azhar from the Muslim Association of Britain said, “Thank you for the stand you have taken here today. As a community under attack from the EDL we realize how important it is. Seeing people like you come out makes us feel part of society.
“Working class, black and white and Asian united from all backgrounds, one community and society is what we are.
If we are united we cannot be defeated.”
Local activist Jerry Langford addressed the rally, saying, “The EDL are from the outside, we are from Dudley. To those of you who have joined us, we say thank you and a big welcome.
“It’s a shame we still have to fight racism in our town. But we have risen to the challenge before – to the National Front and the BNP, and we will do it again. We want a society that welcomes all people. We will rise to the new challenge of the EDL – they are influenced by the BNP. Our united movement has the solution, not their politics of despair.”
12.44pmFrom Dudley Numbers at the anti-EDL rally have now reached around 1,000. Lots of chanting in between speeches and music from Love Music, Hate Racism DJs and bands
Local people are arriving to join the anti-EDL rally – trade unionists, students and groups of Asian and black youth.
Donna from Dudley said, “I've always lived in Dudley and it’s a multiracial community. Seeing people from the EDL come here to spread violence and division is appalling. We don't want racism in the town where we grew up.”
Mohammed from Dudley said, “We are here to show the EDL that Dudley is our place. Everyone is represented here today.”
Julia, a black youth worker from Dudley, says, “The EDL are here protesting against a mosque that isn't even being built. Police and some ‘community leaders’ have told people to stay away from the multiracial event. Lots of people want to come but are scared. Why are the shops boarded up? It's our town. I wanted to stay at home, but then I thought we have to do something – this is our town.”
Lots of local young Asians are in Dudley town centre to join the protest and defend their town.
Police are stopping and searching all of them as they attempt to reach the rally point, but are allowing groups of EDL thugs to wander as they please.
Officers even allowed some EDL into the Unite Against Fascism area of the town centre.
Local pastor Steve Karma, said, 'We have a political and social responsibility to be here today.
'I believe in freedom of speech, but I don't believe that black and Asian people should be scared out of walking the streets of Dudley today.'
A Socialist Worker reporter writes, “We arrived in Dudley just after 10am to find the depressingly familiar sight of the police making it hard for anti-fascists to gather. As we drove into town a police roadblock diverted the local bus we were on. There are groups of police on every major route and road into the town centre and on footbridges.
“People in cars are being turned back.
“The town centre is like a ghost town with shops boarded up and 90 percent shut.”
The multicultural rally is now beginning in Stafford Street. Bands, DJs and musicians organised by Love Music Hate Racism will be performing, along with the following speakers: David Walker, Bishop of Dudley; Councillor Pete Lowe; Khushid Ahmed, chair of Dudley Muslim Association; Steve Beardsmore, Unison; Mohammed Rashid, Dudley Muslim Forum; Jim Warner, Dudley Trades Council; Paul Singh, former REC representative and community activist; Steve Bell, Communication Workers Union; Kanja Sesay, NUS Black Students Campaign; Sheera Johal, Indian Workers Association; Sabby Dhalu, Unite Against Fascism; Weyman Bennett, Unite Against Fascism; Martin Smith, Love Music Hate Racism.
To access the rally enter Dudley via Wellington Road leading to Southalls Lane. Drop-off point is Cross Street, Dudley DY1 1RN. Please note the change of location. The event will not be assembling in Market Place as previously advertised.
Anti-fascists are gathering in Dudley, near Birmingham, today to protest against an attempt by the racist English Defence League (EDL) to bring violence and intimidation to the town.
Unite Against Fascism, together with other local community groups, will be taking part in an event to celebrate Dudley's multifaith, multiracial and multicultural society this Saturday.
Steve Beardsmore, branch secretary of Dudley Unison said, 'The people of Dudley, whatever their background or faith, have worked hard over many years to build a peaceful and tolerant town. The English Defence League are not welcome in Dudley, they are evil and poisonous.'
Weyman Bennett, joint national secretary of Unite Against Fascism said, “The people gathering in Dudley town centre tomorrow in solidarity with the Muslim community represent the real face of the town. They are proud to stand up in unity against racism and fascism.
'In contrast, the thugs and bigots of the EDL will be forced to huddle in a disused car park at the edge of the town.'
Clare Short, MP for Ladywell Birmingham, said, “In Germany, similar groups to the English Defence League started off spreading hatred against Jews. And then their hatred spread to disabled people, trade unionists, communists, gay people and gypsies. All were sent to concentration camps and millions were systematically eliminated.
“Today similar forces are working to spread hatred against Muslims. They are trying to incite hatred, division and war. We must stand together against this evil. There are many problems in Britain and the world. Together we can work to solve them. Divided we all will suffer.”
Anti-fascists are determined to prevent the EDL repeating their racist rampage in Stoke earlier this year when they attacked shops owned by Asians and brought terror to the city.
A major protest by anti-fascists blocked the EDL in Bolton on 20 March – despite repeated assaults from the police.