Merilyn Moos reports for IHOOPS from the anti-EDL demo:
The day was ours.
The victory over the English Defence League last Saturday was a real achievement. Thousands of anti-fascists, trade unionists and members of the local community marched through Whitechapel and helped stop the EDL in its bid to demonstrate in Tower Hamlets. They had bragged that they were coming to the heart of Tower Hamlets – “marching into the lion’s den” in the multiracial, multicultural borough. Despite a national mobilisation, they failed utterly. Only around 600 members of EDL made it to their final rally point – at Aldgate, crucially outside the Tower Hamlets borough boundary. Between 1500 and 2000 joined the Unite Against Fascism and United East End anti-EDL demonstration.
The EDL had nowhere to go. The RMT railworkers’ union prevented the organisation’s planned “muster” at Liverpool Street station, by threatening to close the station down if the violent racists were allowed to gather there. They had already been refused any venue in Tower Hamlets, including Sainsbury’s car park. The EDL’s fallback plan to meet at pubs in Euston was scuppered when the pubs declared they would not host the racists either. Their journey south was then held up when RMT members closed the tube station. Plus, Tommy Robinson, the leader of the EDL, was arrested.
When the EDL had left the area, the anti-racist protestors marched in their thousands back down Whitechapel Road, chanting “Whose streets? Our streets!” and “Black and white unite and fight, smash the EDL”.
Many groups supported the Unite Against Fascism demo. The speakers included CWU deputy general secretary Tony Kearns, East London Mosque’s Dilowar Khan, former MEP Glyn Ford, veteran local antifascist Phil Maxwell, Terry Stewart of LGBT group Out East, former council leader Phil Maxwell amongst many others. Former mayor of London Ken Livingstone sent a message of support, saying: “This is a fitting response to those who peddle hatred and fear.”
We need to show the greatest possible opposition to the racists and fascists. We stopped them in Tower Hamlets. Now we need to ensure that they do not threaten Islington’s multiracial, multicultural community.
The EDL will try to exploit high unemployment, youth disaffection, increasing homelessness and the attack on social services and the NHS. ‘Look at us,’ they will say. ‘We have the answer.’
We know where their answer leads. We must not let that happen here.
An Islington UAF group is in the procerss of being set-up. For further information, contact gabriella: firstname.lastname@example.org