Socialist Worker

Thousands join protests and stand up to racism

A loud, angry and young march through London showed the mood to take on racism, says Ken Olende

Issue No. 2446

Part of the anti-racist march in London last Saturday

Part of the anti-racist march in London last Saturday (Pic: Guy Smallman )

More than 10,000 people marched through central London against racism last Saturday while 2,500 marched in Glasgow (see below) and 150 in Cardiff.

The protests were part of an international day of action that saw anti-racists take to the streets across the world. 

Nasir from Wolverhampton said, “All these people from different backgrounds show those who are trying to divide us that they’re not going to win.”

Many people on the London protest marched in blocs. Two of the liveliest were made up of students and anti-deportation campaigners.

Nathan, a student in Leeds,  was marching “because I hate the way Muslims are being used as scapegoats”.

The defiant atmosphere on the protest was summed up by a homemade placard carried by one young woman in a hijab.

It read, “Farage you donkey, I’ll speak Somali on the train if I want to”.

School students at Stoke Newington School in north London had made a banner saying “Stokey School—rage against racism”. Teachers and students marched together behind it.

Abi came on one of several coaches from Sheffield. She told Socialist Worker, “More Muslims are being harassed. 

“It’s getting so some people are afraid to leave home. I came to stand up against that.”

Support from major trade unions was vital in building the event, which was called by Stand Up To Racism. 

Protesters in London reject Ukip’s lies

Protesters in London reject Ukip’s lies (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Trade union banners were held high throughout the demo.

A group of young Muslims from You Elect were trying to encourage Muslims to vote and to make sure no politician takes them for granted. They clustered around their mascot dressed in a bear costume.

The Stand Up To Racism demonstration was first called last year in response to a call from anti-fascists in Greece. 

The London march was bigger than last year’s—and was young and militant.

Staff at one cafe brought out trays of free drinks for protesters waiting in the cold as coaches arrived from across England. Passersby applauded as the march surged down Regent Street.

Marchers opposed deportations, Ukip and discrimination against Roma people.

 “There are many, many more of us than you,” chanted anti-racists as they streamed past a dozen or so racists holding a “counter-demo” at Piccadilly Circus.

A rally in Trafalgar Square opened with hard-hitting speeches from people fighting for justice after a relative died at the hands of the authorities.

Other speakers included union leaders, politicians and activists. 

Among them were Diane Abbott MP, Jeremy Corbyn MP, George Galloway MP, Green Party leader Natalie Bennett and Jo Cardwell of Stand Up to Ukip.

Weyman Bennett is joint secretary of Unite Against Fascism and one of the organisers of the demo. 

He told the rally, “We’re standing together against those people that want to divide us. 

“You saw the front of the demo with doctors and nurses. The NHS was built by migrants and migrants should be welcomed here.”

Noisy march hits Glasgow

Marching in Glasgow

Marching in Glasgow (Pic: Josh Brown )

Around 2,500 people joined a noisy and diverse march in Glasgow from as far afield as Aberdeen and Newcastle.

The Scottish TUC mobilised people in force. Teachers, local government workers and transport workers marched, waving flags and banners. 

They protested alongside contingents of students from Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Ongoing protests against the detention of immigrants made Close Dungavel placards popular.

Groups of protesters travelled on to Edinburgh after the demo to oppose the racist Pegida group, which had planned a protest there.

While 200 anti-racists gathered outside the parliament, only four Pegida supporters showed up.


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