Around 1,000 anti-racists gathered in Walthamstow, north east London, last Saturday and celebrated a resounding victory over the fascist English Defence League (EDL).
The EDL had said it would return to Walthamstow on Saturday after a humiliating defeat on 1 September. Then, 4,000 anti-fascists occupied its route and stopped the racists from holding a rally. But the EDL failed to return or “unite the right” behind its banner.
Tory home secretary Theresa May granted a police request to ban the EDL and all other marches when it was clear that the anti-fascist protest would be far larger than before (see below).
The anti-EDL demo organised by Unite Against Fascism and We Are Waltham Forest, however, assembled as planned and ended as a victory parade against the racists.
Hugh Lanning from the PCS union condemned David Cameron for attacking multiculturalism. “The fight against cuts is an anti-racist fight,” he added. “That is why the EDL also targets picket lines.”
Father Steven Saxby from St Barnabas Church in Walthamstow told the rally that the way to defeat the EDL “is through the grassroots coming together.”
Jo Cardwell from We Are Waltham Forest said, “On 1 September we built the coffin that they climbed into—and today we shut the lid.” After the rally anti-fascists defied the police ban by marching briefly along Hoe Street.
Meanwhile a miserable ragbag of 50 EDL fascists was penned by police at their “demonstration”, hastily relocated miles away near the Houses of Parliament.
Back in Walthamstow, Shaikhy was on the UAF demo with a delegation from the CWU union’s black workers group. “It’s thanks to the anti-fascist protests if the EDL don’t come,” he told Socialist Worker.
“We have to remember that most of the times the EDL have been banned, they’ve still turned up. But after what happened on 1 September they’ve bottled it. They got scared and have done a runner.”
Bans demobilise the fight
The police told UAF they estimated 7,000 anti-racists would come to Walthamstow. They then asked home secretary Theresa May to ban all demonstrations in the borough.
Some anti-fascists also call for the bans. But bans allow the police to ban anti-fascists too. May banned marches in Walthamstow for 30 days.
This still allowed the EDL to hold a “static” protest in the borough—and anti-racists made it clear that they would still come.
The day before the protest, police said they would not allow the EDL a static protest in Walthamstow. Instead the racists would be allowed to gather in Westminster.
Many activists declared victory. But the EDL would not have been kept out of Walthamstow if anti-racists had not insisted on marching. Protest, not police, stops the EDL.
NF outnumbered in Rotherham
About 30 National Front fascists met in Rotherham last Saturday. Outnumbered five to one by an anti-fascists, the fascists failed to march.
They then found their their meeting place locked against them. Two weeks ago 400 anti-racists turned out to see off the EDL.
Norwich mobilises against Nazis
Around 120 people attended a We Are Norwich meeting in Norwich last week to plan opposition to a planned EDL protest on Saturday 10 November. To support the campaign email [email protected]