Three anti fascist demonstrations took place last weekend from London to Rotherham. All showed the continuing ability of anti fascists to mobilise.
In Rotherham, local MP Sarah Champion joined around 400 Unite Against Fascism demonstrators as they saw off 70 bedraggled EDL nazis marching in the town last Saturday.
The MP called for unity against the hate and division of the fascists, which had already led to an inaugral meeting of a new LGBT group planned for the same day being cancelled.
It was the 17th fascist incursion over two and a half years in an attempt to whip up racism following the child sex exploitation scandal which hit the town.
Yet again the discredited South Yorkshire Police, already under fire for Hillsborough, Orgreave and CSE failings, facilitated a nazi march despite a racist murder, the acquittal of ten of the Rotherham 12 and the jailing of four fascists for violent disorder.
Days before the latest nazi march child abuse survivors wrote a letter to the Home Office calling on the EDL and other fascist groups to “leave the town alone.”
Other speakers at the UAF rally included Rotherham 12, the newly launched Sisters for Peace group, Stand Up to Racism, the Yemeni community, trade unions and local councillors.
A meeting of about 180 people called by the Rotherham 12 campaign which was held shortly before the protest, ended with many marching down with their banner to join the UAF protest.
Phil Turner, Rotherham UAF convenor said afterwards: “It was a great day of solidarity and unity. The nazis were yet again facilitated by SYP even after a racist murder, the Rotherham 12 being found innocent and four EDL in jail for violent disorder, while making prepostorous claims of wrongful convictions. But everybody knows the truth.
“The EDL and other fascists are small and desperate. But they look across Europe and hope Trump and May’s racist demonisation of Muslims and attacks on migrants and refugees will see them revive. But unity in action has sent them packing yet again.”
In Dalston, around 200 anti fascists opposed the LD50 gallery’s hosting of far right speakers. LD50 is an art gallery in the middle of multiracial Hackney.
Recently, a number of hate speeches from particular individuals have polluted the venue. Those who advocate violence against immigrants and unashamed white supremacists, have been allowed a platform by gallery ‘curators’.
They include Peter Brimelow, who has published works by anti Semites and Brett Stevens who is a supporter of the mass killer, Anders Breivik.
Armed with this knowledge, a protest was held outside the gallery. People then marched through Dalston, including by Ridley Road market, scene over the decades of anti fascist activity from the 43 Group, the Anti Nazi League to the present day. Demonstrators, who included trade union and community activists, pledged to keep organising until the far right space, is no more. See more on the campaign here, https://shutdownld50.tumblr.
As with Rotherham, the local TUC and UAF in Telford, also opposed Britain First, who, like the EDL, are trying to ‘racialize’ the appalling crime of sex abuse, for which some local residents were recently jailed. The fascists also jumped on inflammatory tabloid headlines of the town supposedly being the leading ‘sex crime capital’ in Britain.
Britain First of course, have a notorious history of Islamophobia and only recently had their leader released from jail for breaching a Court Order banning him from all Mosques in the UK. The promise by Britain First, of a speech from an anti Semitic ‘priest’ from Poland failed to materialise, as the individual was detained at Stansted Airport. Britain First spent some weeks in the run up to their visit trying to bully locals into attending. Such attempts were overwhelmingly rebuffed.
Anti fascists from Telford matched the national fascist turnout, the latter of which was just over 100, and largely bused in. A cross section of people from Telford joined anti fascists. One said, “Those like Britain First have no interests for the people of Telford or those who have suffered abuse. They are not wanted here and we are sick of such racists in the town”. Speakers at the TUC/UAF demonstration included regional trade unionists and representatives of the Muslim Community.
The non appearance of the fascist from Poland and the relatively small gathering of fascists, again underlines, for all their bluster, that Britain First are still marginal. Anti fascists also gathered at Wellington Mosque, in case of any attempt at intimidating mosque goers, something for which BF are renowned. The fascists thought better of it. Telford UAF/TUC built on the recent mobilisation against the EDL and have strengthened links with many locally.
UAF, with others, remains committed to mobilising where fascists try to scapegoat and target minorities.