Hundreds of anti-fascists and anti-racists turned out in Leeds on Saturday for a Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) rally against the fascist Yorkshire Patriots.
They outnumbered the band of around 100 Nazis, despite confusion in the local press about whether the fascists were marching. Anti-fascists began mobilising after Nazis from the English Defence League said they would hold a protest in defence of jailed fascist Tommy Robinson.
It comes after some 400 racists and fascists marched in Leeds last month chanting “Muslims off our streets.” Just four days later, a mosque and a Sikh gurdwara in the south of the city suffered arson attacks.
There was a great atmosphere of unity among anti-fascists on Saturday, and a real sense of the dangers posed by fascism to the labour movement.
The anti-fascist protest organised by Leeds SUTR marched through town. Many people joined the protest as it marched.
It joined up with a smaller Leeds Anti-Fascist Network mobilisation which had been kettled by the police. It meant there was a united march of around 700 anti-fascists in Leeds city centre.
Chants of, “fascism has got to go” and “say it loud say it clear, refugees are welcome here” rang out to cheers from bystanders.
Labour shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon spoke as did Labour MP Hilary Benn. There were also speeches from Labour councillors, and former England Rugby League player and British Asian Rugby Association founder Ikram Butt.
The local Labour Party in Leeds moved their celebration of the 70th anniversary of the NHS from Saturday to Sunday so their members could attend.
There were also sizeable contingents from local trade unions, including Unite, GMB, Napo, PCS and NEU unions.
Michael Bradley from SUTR emphasised the importance of building SUTR groups in workplaces and communities.
Now anti-fascists have to take to the streets against Robinson’s supporters in central London next Saturday.