Over 120 anti-racists attended a vibrant and noisy Stand Up to Racism (SUTR) rally outside Lunar House in Croydon, south London, last Saturday. It houses the Home Office’s visa and immigration centre.
Fascists had called their own rally to stir up racism against refugees to which Croydon SUTR quickly organised a response.
The Nazis were outnumbered by at least ten to one. A group of about 30 Antifa activists also held their own mobile rally.
Margot, a UCU union member from Croydon College, addressed the rally. She said, “My students are from Croydon, with backgrounds from all around the world.
“They learn together and achieve together. They totally reject the racism of the far right”.
Passers-by joined the rally and cars tooted their horns.
A group of refugee women, who had been inside Lunar House, came out, took up some placards and joined in with singing, “Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here”.
Adam, from Croydon Refugee Forum, said, “We will always stand in solidarity with our fellow Afghan refugees.
“We will ensure that they will receive a very warm welcome in our community.
“Any racist abuse and attack is an attack on all of our community, we do not tolerate far-right and fascist groups.”
There were many different organisations represented at the rally that all came together to reject both racism and fascism.
Paula, from Croydon Disabled People Against Cuts, said “We must unite and challenge racism and organise and educate in our communities. We say refugees are welcome here.”
Michael, a NEU member and Croydon resident, said “Not only must we take on the Nazis and tell them they are not welcome.
“But we also have to fight against the racism of this Tory government. It uses division, to smokescreen the fact that the rich are getting get richer.”
The rally was also attended by members of the Afghan community who live in Croydon.
Dewa, who is deeply worried about the safety of her family in Afghanistan, said “I will tell my family about this demonstration.
“It will give them hope to know what people in Croydon are doing. The government needs to let people from my country in.
“Britain and the US have played a huge part in making Afghanistan unsafe for people. Now they should let them in,” she added.
Other speakers included activists from charity Care4Calais, the RMT union, Extinction Rebellion and refugee groups.
The protest finished with a rousing chorus of “We are black, white, Muslim and we’re Jews... There are many, many more of us than you.”
There was also a commitment to continue to build anti-racist networks in the area and to campaign for a welcoming environment in Croydon for all refugees.