The Met Police made up to 300 arrests (07/09/13) in order to allow the EDL to march across Tower Bridge and into the outskirts of Tower Hamlets.
The day started well enough with hundreds answering the Anti -Fascist Network‘s call to stop the EDL. The AFN responding to earlier threats by the Met to march the league into the heart of Tower Hamlets had announced their meeting point as Altab Ali park – effectively as a side rally to the Unite against Fascism shindig.
The UAF affair went down much as expected – a platform with speakers firmly within the designated protest zone. In the end they produced nearly fifty speakers (all the usual suspects and local worthies). It also has to be said that the UAF really only started banging the drum for Tower Hamlets when it was clear that a police ban on an EDL march into Tower Hamlets proper would be enforced.
Meanwhile the AFN quietly assembled towards the back of the park and when the moment came around 500 surged out behind the banners and to the cops’ surprise marched east in order to outflank them and exploit a few undefended side streets. Many locals joined in with the break away.
Swinging round, the block made for Tower Bridge and tried to make its way through the hastily improvised police cordons. Some were kettled or turned back but one group of around a hundred made it to within sight of the EDL’s rally point on Tower Bridge. Determined attempts to break through were met with the threat of horses and dogs. In the end the exchange between anti-fascists and EDL was limited to shouting abuse.
Other anti-fascists operated in small groups along the route of the EDL’s march. After the huge build up and with all the benefits of the Lee Rigby incident the league only numbered around 600 on the day. One SchNEWS reporter who walked alongside them said “They seemed pretty despondent, there was very little shouting or chanting”.
At the EDL’s rally point at Aldgate station one brave couple, who’d evaded police detection, unfurled a banner with the pithy slogan “Racists fuck off”. This provoked a hail of bottles from the enraged EDL. The banner wielders were then nicked for ‘breach of the peace’. There were also (unconfirmed) reports that non-aligned anti-fascists got into a building site to the south of the rally and hurled bricks into the crowd.
The EDL were permitted a half hour rally, during which Tommy Robinson announced a series of charity walks in the Tower Hamlets area, an obvious move in light of the astounding success of the last one. They were then marched directly back along their route and embarked on their buses. A handful remained drinking under the watchful eyes of cops in pubs near the bridge. No EDL supporters managed any kind of visible presence in Tower Hamlets on the day.
As the news of the EDL’s departure came through the UAF staged a ‘victory march’ along Whitechapel High St. The celebration of this ‘victory’ while nearly two hundred comrades were being held in police kettles and being prepared for mass arrest was condemned by at least one AFN activist as a “fucking disgrace”.
Police brought commandeered buses to the two kettles and began loading prisoners into them to be distributed to police stations across London. Arrest support was organised by Green and Black Cross across the capital, with activists waiting outside police stations for released detainees. As far as SchNEWS is aware virtually nobody has been charged with an offence or even interviewed. They have all been bailed away from ‘demonstrations by the BNP, EDL or EVF inside the M25’. These are the very same bail conditions handed out to activists who confronted the BNP’s attempted march on the Cenotaph . Clearly the Met at least are worried about the growing presence of militant anti-fascists on the streets.
Were you arrested? If you haven’t already then it’s probably worth your while to contact Green and Black Cross who are collating information and organising legal support.
The far-right English Defence League recently went on another jolly in London, rallying in Barking with a poor turn out yet again. Not content with the days outing, a group of around 20 decided to pay a trip to Whitechapel. After hitting the pubs, the drunken mob assembled outside the East London mosque.
According to one anti-fascist witness “They were there briefly, shouting ‘Allah is a paedo’, then almost straight away one of them got knocked out. Within ten minutes there were three or four hundred locals there ready to confront them. There were also TSG [riot police] all over the shop. The EDL were then all arrested for their own safety” Nice one guys!
Note ambulance crews treating injured EDL member on right of the picture
Back in September, 3 Counties Anti-Fascist Alliance joined a mobilisation against the EDL, who planned (and failed) to march into Tower Hamlets. They have it in their heads that getting pissed up, threatening people and marching mob-handed into areas will heal community tensions and deal with the problem of Islamic extremism. How many more times will they try this before they realise that it doesn’t work?
Back issues of anti-fascist magazine, ‘Fighting Talk,’ have finally been made available to read online. ‘Fighting Talk’ was the magazine of the UK-wide militant anti-fascist organisation, Anti-Fascist Action, who are widely credited with driving the National Front, British National Party and other fascist groups away from street-based activism and marches in the 1980s and 1990s.You can view the magazine here.
Ex-AFA activists were recently interviewed by magazine Red Pepper. The extensive interview, covering the history and aims of militant anti-fascism, the origins and the activities of AFA can be read here.
Anti-fascist ‘hacktivists’ affiliated with Anonymous have crippled the websites of neo-Nazi groups, as well as leaking membership lists and individuals personal information. As part of ‘Operation Blitzkrieg,’ 15 websites linked to Germany’s extreme far-right National Democratic Party have been shut down, along with the details of UK customers of neo-Nazi music enterprise, Blood and Honour, and the BNP membership list being released. To view all of the leaks, go to the NaziLeaks website.
From the 32 counties
Anti-Fascist Action Ireland have been busy lately, keeping an eye on visiting fascists, opposing Nick Griffin’s visit to UCD and taking part in speaking tours and commemorations. You can check out the latest issue of their newsletter, ‘In the Area,’ here.
Anti-fascists over there are also organising to oppose a planned visit by Nick Griffin to speak at Cork Uni. We wish our comrades over there every success for spoiling his little visit.
Today marks the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street, the day when East End anti-fascist, Irish, Jewish, anarchist, communist and socialist groups united to block the march of Oswald Mosley and his British Union of Fascists. Hundreds of thousands of locals gathered, blocked the path of the march and fought running battles with fascists and the police who were drafted in to clear the march route. This use of mass community direct action was hugely successful and the march was eventually abandoned. Around 175 people were injured, and about 150 were arrested.
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