The counter demonstration was called by Yorkshire and the Humber Unite Against Fascism and backed by local trade unions. On the march were banners from Kirklees Unison public sector union, Leeds University and Leeds Met UCU lecturers’ union, Unite the Union and GMB, as well as the NUT teachers’ union.
These branches represent tens of thousands of public and private sector workers in the area. The Unity march rallied near Dewsbury market, and within earshot of the EDL rally.
Speakers praised Dewsbury’s diversity and proud history of tolerance, while criticising Council leaders for “rolling out the red carpet for the EDL”.
They said that the reason given by the Council for concessions to EDL “protests” in the past would mean they would stay away in the future. Saturday proved them wrong.
The EDL have returned. Last time they were given a car park, this time they bussed in some 400 over their supporters to hold a rally outside the Town Hall. This is another in a series of EDL national mobilisations. This summer, they plan to march through Bristol as well as Walthamstow in north east London.Such is the fear of EDL violence that Dewsbury market and local shops were forced to close on what should be a big shopping day.
Stall holders pulled down their shutters as gangs of racist thugs, many of whom were drunk, gathered in nearby pubs before their “protest”.
A sign in charity shop window read: “We are closed because of fears for the safety of our employees.”
Despite the heavy police segregation of the EDL, some of their thugs lobbed bangers into journalists and crowds of locals who gathered to watch.
After police put the EDL back on their buses, anti-racists marched through the town centre chanting “Who’s streets, our streets” — this time joined by groups of young people.
Five EDL members were arrested. The Unity event passed off peacefully.
Darren Lockley of Unite the Union said:
It is outrageous that in this day and age we have to once against protest against these racists.”
Paul Scarrott of UAF said:
We stand united with all the people of Dewsbury. A defeat for the EDL is a victory for everyone.”
Weyman Bennett, joint secretary of UAF said:
The EDL is a front for racist thugs, Nazi sympathisers and fascists. It is not about “expressing an opinion”, but spreading fear among our communities. They want people to hide behind their curtains. Today we have shown that they will not succeed.”
Pictures: Kelvin Williams