More than 10,000 people marched through central London against racism today, Saturday, while 2,500 more marched in Glasgow and 150 in Cardiff.
The protests were part of an international day of action against racism that saw anti-racists take to the streets across the world.
The London march was young and militant, with noticeably more Muslims than last year.
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 today to stand up against that.”
Nathan, a student in Leeds, said he was marching “because I hate the way Muslims are being used as scapegoats”.
Marchers also came because they oppose deportations, Ukip and discrimination against Roma people.
Aderonke is a gay woman from Nigeria seeking asylum in Britain. She told the demonstration, “Many people have been locked up and tortured before coming here and then they are locked up again.
“We must stand together to fight racism.”
Veerendra Rishi said, “Roma people aren’t treated properly. We don’t have access to jobs, housing or benefits because of racism. That’s why I’m here today.”
Amy is a teacher in Cambridge, “The Trevor Phillips programme this week did Ukip’s dirty work for it. Racial stereotyping is becoming more acceptable, and I don’t want to go back to a time when landlords could openly say something like ‘No blacks’.”
Andy, a Unison union rep from Doncaster, said, “Ukip has just opened an office in Doncaster and are targeting areas where migrants live. But migrants aren’t the problem – Ukip and its racism are.”
Marchers were buoyed by the size of the demonstration.
Nasir from Wolverhampton said, “All these people from different backgrounds shows those who are trying to divide us that they’re not going to win.”
Many passersby clapped and cheered as the march headed for Trafalgar Square.
“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.
In Glasgow there was a good contingent of student groups from Edinburgh and Glasgow. Many marchers brought homemade banners.
Close Dungavel placards, referring to a detention centre, were popular and marchers flocked to sign a petition to shut it down.
The London rally opened with hard-hitting speeches from people fighting for justice after a relative died at the hands of the authorities.
Carole Duggan, whose nephew Mark Duggan was killed by police, said, “It has taken 26 years for an officer to finally admit that the Hillsborough disaster was his fault. You have to fight to get blood out of these stones.
“They drag it out to make us go away. But we are not going anywhere.”
Speakers at the rally in Trafalgar Square included trade union leaders, politicians and activists. Among them were Jeremy Corbyn MP, George Galloway MP and Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party.
CWU union general secretary Billy Hayes said people should oppose “imperialist wars” that have led to “a siege on Muslim communities”.
Diane Abbott MP told the crowd, “It’s sad that some people in the Labour Party seem to think there is any benefit in trying to out Ukip Ukip. No! You must oppose their arguments at every opportunity.”
Zita Holbourne of Barac said, “Politicians say we live in a post racial society. But the question isn’t how far we’ve come, but how far we’re going back.”
Weyman Bennett is co-chair 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.”
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