Socialist Worker

Supporters pack into Bookmarks bookshop for day of solidarity after Nazi attack

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2617

Supporters crowd outside the Bookmarks bookshop - with many more inside

Supporters crowd outside the Bookmarks bookshop - with many more inside (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Solidarity poured in from across the left and the labour movement to socialist bookshop Bookmarks in central London on Saturday.

Hundreds of people attended the “We will not be silenced” day of book readings, poetry and speeches. It was organised after a group of Nazis and racists ransacked the bookshop last weekend.

Dave Gilchrist, manager of Bookmarks, said he was “overwhelmed to see so many people here” and that the “number of messages has been immense”.

“We have to recognise the nature of what happened,” he said. “It wasn't just an attack on Bookmarks, it was an attack on the whole movement.

“But whatever the intention of the fascists, we have emerged from it much, much stronger.”

Those who came were from the Labour Party, Momentum, trade unions and many campaigns.

Sue Campbell, a Momentum member in Camden, north London, told Socialist Worker, “This attack on Bookmarks had reminders of 1930s Germany.

“By the sounds and looks of it the far right is growing. We came because it's important to show solidarity”.

Many people pointed out how the attack on Bookmarks exposed hypocrisy of the fascists and racists who paint their figurehead Tommy Robinson as a “free speech martyr”.

Gareth, a Unite union member, told Socialist Worker, “They say that it's all about free speech, but then they attack a bookshop!”

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Across the whole day people packed into the bookshop. Many also crowded on the street outside where Bookmarks staff had set up a book stall to cope with demand.

More than 300 people also attended an event at nearby Bloomsbury Baptist Church to hear speeches and book readings from authors and activists.

David Rosenberg from the Jewish Socialists’ Group  read a message of solidarity from Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn—“my MP, an outstanding fighter against all racism”.

It said, “Bookshops being attacked shows how frightened they are of ideas of a different society.

“There is only one answer—solidarity”

Throughout the day chairs Andrea Butcher and Sarah Ensor, both former Bookmarks workers, read out messages of support from authors, poets and politicians.

Anne Mitchel, who stars in BBC soap Eastenders, read Whitechapel Library—Aldgate East, a poem by left wing East End writer Bernard Kops.

Authors who spoke included Kim Sherwood, whose first recently publish-novel Testament deals with the impact of the Holocaust on three generations of a family.

The show of solidarity at Bookmarks showed how it possible to build unity against the fascists and racists.

Weyman Bennett from Stand Up To Racism called on people to unite against the threat of resurgent forces of the British far right.

“Tommy Robinson's supporters had 15,000 on the streets—they are bigger now than before,” he said.

“We built the Anti Nazi League, we built Unite Against Fascism—and we're building Stand Up To Racism. And we're going to be putting out a unity statement in the next few days.

“It is not automatic that we win but we will fight.


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