Sunday 2 September 2012

Magnificent show of unity in Walthamstow

Thousands gather at the “We Are Walthamstow” opening rally to hear trade unionists and speakers from the local community.

Unite Against Fascism (UAF) would like to thank the thousands of people who joined the unity demonstration in Walthamstow, east London on Saturday.

It was a day of celebration that has delivered a humiliating defeat to the racist thugs of the English Defence League (EDL).

The EDL wanted to stage its provocative anti-Muslim march through the multicultural borough in north east London as part of its campaign to spread race hatred. It was a failure.

The EDL called it a “make or break” day for its dwindling band of supporters. It promised to mobilise over 1,000 people for its Walthamstow demonstration. Only 150 turned up. They were blocked, diverted and finally told that their rally had to been abandoned.

In contrast between 3,500 to 4,000 people turned out to oppose them. UAF along with the “We Are Walthamstow” campaign brought together trade unions, community and faith groups, and many others in a magnificent display of unity.

The EDL thugs were jeered by locals from the moment they stepped foot in the borough, till the moment they were hauled off by police. EDL leader Tommy Robinson (real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon), who along with other senior members of his organisation, looked crestfallen and humiliated after hundreds of anti-fascists occupied the EDL rally point.

This miserable turn-out for the EDL — that at one time claimed to have thousands of active members — has triggered another round of resignations and in-fighting.

Weyman Bennett, joint secretary of Unite Against Fascism said:

Walthamstow showed that our strength is in our unity, our determination and our resolve. It proved that together we can defeat the fascists and racist thugs of the EDL. It was a magnificent day and a great celebration of our multicultural society.

In Walthamstow we can celebrate a great victory. But we cannot be complacent. Fascism remains a threat here and across Europe. The fascists will use every opportunity to exploit this terrible economic crisis to push their message of hate. We have to be ready to oppose them at every turn, and in every town and city across the country.”

UAF and “We Are Walthamstow” stewards lead off the march.

There was a tremendous feeling of unity as the demonstration marched through the borough.

Among the marchers were a group of vicars.

As well as a large delegation representing the many mosques in the borough.

A section of the march blocked Forest Road, forcing the police to divert the EDL through the side streets. (Picture: Claire Chandler)

But groups of local youth were quick to respond.

A crestfallen EDL leader Tommy Robinson was forced to abandon his rally.

Police haul off an EDL thug.

Pictures: Kelvin Williams

This great video captures the mood of the day.

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