Saturday 4 February 2012

Leicester: EDL flops again as community unites against racists

The racist and fascist thugs of the English Defence League staged another flop today, failing to raise more than around 450 people for their national demonstration in Leicester.

The low turnout follows the failure of the EDL’s ‘Big One’ in Tower Hamlets last September, where the racists and facists gathered 600 together but were unable to enter the east London borough and were outnumbered by ten times as many antiracists.

A miserable 300 turned up for the EDL’s October demo in Birmingham. Now, despite dragging supporters in from as far as Dorset, the EDL have produced a pitiful turnout in Leicester.

Disgracefully, police agreed a march route for the EDL through the centre of Leicester, past the clock tower and other key landmarks – against the wishes of the people of the multiracial, multicultural city.


But local people turned out in much larger numbers to make their opposition to the EDL clear.

UAF members and other antiracists began the protest against the EDL in the morning, when 200 gathered at the Clock Tower before being pushed back by police to Welford Place, where they were joined by hundreds more anti-EDL protestors.

Around 700 anti-EDL protestors – black, white and Asian – then marched through the city on the ‘Love Leicester Hate Racism’ demonstration, while another 200 antifascist and antiracist demonstrators made it back to the Clock Tower to jeer the EDL thugs as they were escorted past by police.

Five Labour councillors and Leicester South MP Jon Ashworth joined the UAF demo, which was overwhelmingly made up of people from Leicester and was backed by the CWU Leicestershire branch, Leicestershire County Unison, PCS Leicester and Leicestershire branch, Stoneygate Labour Party, Unite 0168M branch, Leicester District Trades Council and the Indian Workers Association.

And in the Highfields area of Leicester, hundreds of young people also gathered to defend the local mosque.

UAF joint secretary Weyman Bennett said:

Leicester people showed today that they would not be intimidated by the EDL thugs bused in from all over the country. They stood up proudly and marched to defend their multiracial, muticultural community.

Local people from Leicester outnumbered the EDL, despite the racists’ national mobilisation. This should be a telling blow against the EDL thugs.

But the decision by the police to give the EDL a march route through the centre of the city was disgraceful – it gave a boost to the racist and fascist organisation, despite the EDL’s own failure to win any support for its poisonous ideas in Leicester.

We are pleased that yet again, ordinary people from across a very diverse community have come together and shown that the EDL is not welcome.

Pic by Geoff Dexter

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