Socialist Worker

Unprecedented London protest ban extended

by Patrick Ward
Issue No. 2267

The home secretary, Theresa May, has today (Wednesday) banned all political marches in the City of London for 30 days. This is in addition to the five other London boroughs which face the bans, which were announced last Friday.

Other boroughs affected are Tower Hamlets and neighbouring boroughs Hackney, Islington, Waltham Forest and Newham. The ban begins this Friday, 2 September.

The home secretary and police have used this Saturday’s planned march by the racist English Defence League (EDL) as an excuse to force through an unprecedented attack on our right to protest.

This is part of a recent clampdown on civil liberties. Thousands were arrested following the riots in London and across Britain, with draconian prison sentences for the most minor offences. It also follows the huge level of police harassment at Notting Hill Carnival last weekend.

While the EDL is banned from marching, they will still come to Tower Hamlets.

But local people opposed to the EDL thugs will not be allowed to march through their own streets to defend their community against the racists and fascists.

The protest ban also has far wider implications.

It will mean marches to save local hospitals, protest against deaths in custody or support striking workers will be illegal and prevented by the police.

This is the first time such a ban has been proposed for Greater London since the Public Order Act 1986 came into force.

This is not about protecting Londoners against the racist EDL. It is the response of a police force and government shaken by the recent riots. They want to use the law in an attempt to crush resistance to them.

Meanwhile, campaigners continue to build for Saturday’s anti-fascist counter-protest.

Trade unionists from east London pledged their support for the anti-EDL demonstration at a meeting on Tuesday called by Tower Hamlets College UCU.

Billy Hayes, general secretary of the post workers’ CWU union, pledged the support of his union for the demo. He accused mainstream politicians of “giving the EDL a helping hand” by spreading anti-Muslim prejudice and undermining multiculturalism.

Union reps from Tower Hamlets Unison, East London NUT and health workers in Unite, among others, also spoke out at the meeting to back the anti-EDL protest.

It’s vital that every anti-fascist in the country comes to Tower Hamlets this Saturday to show their opposition to the EDL thugs.

Only mass mobilisations like this can defeat organised racists and fascists.

The new assembly point for the joint Unite Against Fascism/United East End demonstration against the English Defence League has been announced.

It will assemble at the corner of Whitechapel Road and Vallance Road near the East London Mosque at 11am (Nearest tube Whitechapel).

Sign the Unite Against Fascism petition demanding our right to march on Saturday.

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