Socialist Worker

M17: Report 1: Protesters gather across Britain to stand up to racism

by Socialist Worker journalists
Issue No. 2596

Protesters congregate in London

Protesters congregate in London (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Protesters from across Britain are congregating in London, Glasgow and Cardiff for today’s Stand Up To Racism demonstrations.

Coaches from across England are arriving at Portland Place in London. The Glasgow demonstration has around 1,500 people on it.

45 people were on the coach from Scarborough and York. One young refugee took to the microphone to tell the coach she had had to leave Syria with her two sisters and parents due to war, killings and the shortage of food and medicine.

The protests come at a crucial moment for the anti-racist struggle in Britain.

Travelling down from York and Scarborough this morning

Travelling down from York and Scarborough this morning (Pic: Socialist Worker)


A protester from Birmingham told Socialist Worker, "I'm marching today because I've recently performed in a play about the Holocaust, and I felt like I couldn't not be here.

“We live in turbulent times, and if things like the Holocaust happened in the past then they can happen again. We can't just stand back and do nothing, we have to protest."

A big group of school students were part of the delegation from Wakefield near Leeds. Hamza, one of them, told Socialist Worker, "Some people are racist, they think that they can say and do anything. We should all have equal rights."

Demonstration

Sajid from the Next Generation youth group told Socialist Worker, "We brought a group down to the Stop the War demonstration in 2003 and some of them are activists now.

"It's about giving them the opportunity to be aware politically."

Zenat from Muslim Engagement and Development (Mend) group is marching to "raise concerns about Islamophobia and immigration policy".

"The government has its own agenda and it's not inclusive to Muslims," she told Socialist Worker."There is also hatred of immigration, but immigration is not bad. What about all the doctors who work in the NHS?

"We have to give migrants a voice because they don't have one at the moment."

The demonstration in Glasgow

The demonstration in Glasgow (Pic: Raymie Kiernan)


Margaret is the national race relations officer for the Unison union, which is affiliated to SUTR. "If anyone says there hasn't been a rise in racism they are not watching the news," she told Socialist Worker.

"Even Diane Abbott, who will be speaking later, has faced vile abuse."

Pushing

Many are pointing the finger at the people at the top of society for pushing racism.

Margaret added that the government "only stands for the elite". When people "saw the Labour Party slogan 'For the many not the few', they understood it," she said.

Hannah travelled from Sheffield to London for her first demonstration. She described the fight against racism as "very important”.

"I'm here raising awareness,” she said. I think a lot of people are blind that racism exists, especially institutional racism.

“I think it's really important to let people know because the more we stand silent the more it will happen. But we need to link with other protests and demonstrate against capitalism too."


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