Defiant Stand Up to Racism and Fascism protests took to the streets across Britain yesterday, Saturday. In London around 7,000 people marched while more than 1,000 protested in Glasgow and another 500 in Cardiff.
The demonstrations were lively and diverse bringing together trade unionists and migrant groups, anti racists and political parties. Banners ranged from Unite the union to London Metropolitan University students, from Let’s Kick Racism Out of Football to the Woodcraft Folk, from the Filipino Domestic Workers Association to RMT European Passenger Services.
The protests were called by Unite Against Fascism (UAF) and supported by the TUC and all the major unions.
Maria and Favel, who are Roma, originally from Slovakia said, “We're so excited. We’ve never been on this kind of demonstration before, seeing people from different cultures speaking was wonderful. It was very peaceful and represented people from everywhere, especially young people, who are interested and want to fight for our rights.”
On the Scottish march Protester Nusrat Anwar from Glasgow told Socialist Worker, “I came because it’s visible defiance and a very loud message that we are willing to stand up to racism and fascism.”
Berry Taiwo, a post worker and the equality rep at CWU South Central Postal branch, was on the London protest. He told Socialist Worker, “There is racism in some mail centres and people face discrimination and harassment. I’ve brought people here today because of this.
“I think a day like this will give people confidence to go back into their unions and take up positions to fight back against the racism, harassment and discrimination that they face.”
Dory from Justice for Domestic Workers said, “We’re here to fight. We want to be equal. A lot of migrant domestic workers aren’t treated well but now we have a union supporting us.”
Kate Thompson, a student at Bristol university, said “This is the first thing I’ve done like this. We went to a UAF meeting last week and heard about it and booked our place on the coach. We’re personally angry about racism and want to do something.”
Her friend Anya Ignatieva said, “The European election is coming and we don’t want people to scapegoat immigrants. We want to make sure people don’t vote for Ukip. They’re no alternative.”
Diane Abbott MP said from the platform, “We are here to say to the leaders of all the political parties—Lib Dems, Conservative and Labour—no to racism and fascism. Political parties should say no to anti immigrant politics. Don’t scrabble with Ukip in the gutter”
Weyman Bennett from UAF attacked the new immigration bill currently going through parliament calling it a “disgraceful piece of legislation”. He told the crowd we must say, “Polish and Bulgarian migrants are welcome here. Irish travellers are welcome here.”
Gloria Mills from Unison told the London rally, ““We must come out on 18 October to ensure we have the largest national demonstration organised by the TUC after the Poll Tax. We have to say no, we want an end to discrimination.”
Nick Ruff was carrying the Kirklees Unison banner. He said, “Local government workers know we can’t let racism be used to divide us. I come from a place where the British National Party had three councillors, but now they have none—we understand the significance of solidarity in challenging the racists.”
The protests came after a call from Greek anti-fascists for protests against the growth of racism and fascism. More than 10,000 people marched in Athens and others came out in cities across Europe. Some 500 marched in solidarity in New York.