Some 5,000 black, white and Asian people marched through central London last Saturday against racism, fascism and Islamophobia.
The mood was angry as large groups of students from colleges, schools and universities joined with trade unionists and others.
They chanted, “We are black, we are white, together we are dynamite,” and “Whose streets? Our streets!”
The march was organised by Unite Against Fascism (UAF) and backed by the TUC and Muslim Council of Britain.
A group of young Asians from Birmingham travelled to the protest together. “We’ve had the EDL in Birmingham,” one told Socialist Worker, “Challenging it made us stronger and more determined to fight back.”
“We are here against racism and to defend multiculturalism,” said another.
Thaaibah and Sabina—school students from east London—were on the protest. “Coming on the demo started out as part of a school project on fascism,” Sabina told Socialist Worker.
“We realised that the past is linked to today and the threat isn’t over.”
Thaaibah added, “We don’t want to live in a society where we are attacked because of the colour of our skin or our religion.”
Robert Lugg came with a delegation of council workers from Kensington and Chelsea.
He told Socialist Worker: “We work in one of the most diverse boroughs in London. I think it is vital that trade unionists stand up and defend that.”
Rory Malone, branch secretary of the Dundee City Unison branch, also brought a delegation on the protest. “We came today to send a clear message from across Britain that the EDL and BNP aren’t welcome,” he told Socialist Worker.
At a rally before the march set off, Kay Carberry, TUC assistant general secretary, linked the fight against racism and the fight against Tory cuts.
“We defeated the British National Party at the ballot box at the general election but it hasn’t gone away,” she said.
“The government’s cuts will provide it with fertile ground on which to grow, and it will try and pit worker against worker, and community against community.
“We’re not going to let it get away with that.”
Weyman Bennett, joint chair of UAF, said that wherever the EDL takes to the streets, “We will meet you in our thousands—the streets are ours and we will not be pushed back.”
At the end of the march protesters listened to speeches and music from anti-racist performers.
Martin Smith, UAF steering committee member and national organiser for Love Music Hate Racism, told the crowd, “Across Europe leaders like Angela Merkel in Germany and Nicolas Sarkozy in France are whipping up racism.
“In Britain, David Cameron and his friend Nick Clegg want to whip up division to push through the cuts.
“The violent thugs and Islamophobes of the EDL feed off this.”
The EDL are planning a number of protests in the months ahead: in Preston on 27 November (see below) and in Luton on 5 February.
UAF are calling on anti-racists to join the counter-protests and to build broad local UAF groups across Britain to tackle racism in all its forms.