By Dean HarrisNatasha Munoz
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‘A victory that came from unity’

This article is over 8 years, 9 months old
Dean Harris and Natasha Munoz, Waltham Forest UAF
Issue 385

Dean: ‘As soon as we discovered that the fascists would come to Waltham Forest we called a meeting and invited everyone we could. No one was to be excluded. We wanted it to be as broad as possible, even though there were others who disagreed – especially some people who wanted to exclude the Labour Party as they accused them of implementing austerity.

To us it was clear that we needed to build a big movement, despite any other disagreements. It was a big advantage to have Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy with us. She played important role in the campaign.

Another key issue that came up was the call for a government ban on the EDL march. It is understandable why people would call for a ban – they don’t want fascists in their area. We had to be patient in explaining that the ban would also affect us: our demo would also be outlawed.

The second problem is that a ban would demobilise the anti-fascist movement. We need to build popular opposition to the fascists, not be forced to sit at home. In the end we came to a compromise with those calling for a ban by saying that if the EDL march goes ahead, then those calling for a ban should also call for a mobilisation on the day.

The demonstration was vital, not only for the huge numbers that turned out, and the mix of people, but because we stopped their march with a sit-down protest along the route.’

Nathasha: ‘We formed the We are Waltham Forest coalition, which included the local UAF group and others. We spread out over the borough, leafleting, contacting community organisations. We held many public meetings and worked closely with the Council of Mosques.

People became politicised by the events that day, and you could feel everyone’s confidence grow. But the effect on the young Muslims made the biggest impact on me. After we finished with the EDL it seemed that they had grown inches, as if they had finally been given permission to act, and take control over their lives. It was a turning point in the battle to stop the EDL, and an important victory.’

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