Over 130 people crammed into the “We are Waltham Forest” and Unite Against Fascism public meeting at Harmony Hall, Walthamstow, London, on Tuesday night.
The meeting was called to discuss the planned march by the English Defence League (EDL) on 18 August.
The gathering represented the diversity of people from the area. The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) helped to steward the meeting, a sign of the night’s strong trade union presence.
Trade unionists, representatives from faith communities, young and old, united in agreeing that the EDL march would be an affront to the multi-racial east London borough.
Speakers included the Reverend Stephen Saxby, Zita Holbourne from the PCS union, and Martin Smith from UAF. They said that the EDL were coming to Walthamstow with the aim of inflaming racism and Islamophobia.
The meeting expressed its disgust that racists and fascists wanted to come to Walthamstow. People said that the National Front (NF) had tried to build in the area during the 1970s, but were driven out by a strong local campaign and have never returned.
One local said:
We need big numbers to turn out in August, and ensure that the EDL get the message and never touch our streets again”.
Martin Smith said that unity against the EDL was crucial:
On 18 August we need to speak and act as one. We need to say loudly: ‘They shall not pass’.”
Thousands of leaflets are being distributed as part of a campaign to build local support for the “We are Waltham Forest” and UAF counter-demonstration.
We are Waltham Forest is supported by:
Unite Against Fascism, Waltham Forest Trades Council, Waltham Forest Race Equalities Council, Waltham Forest Amnesty International, Jewish Socialists, Leyton Community Trust Mosque, and Waltham Forest Palestine Solidarity Campaign