(eng) ANTIFA INFO-BULLETIN, Vol. 1, No. 6 [1/3]

Tom Burghardt (tburghardt@igc.apc.org)
Wed, 5 Jun 1996 01:11:10 +0200


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|| * - VOL. 1, NO. 6 -- June 03, 1996 -- VOL. 1, NO. 6 - * ||
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ANTI-FASCIST NEWS, POLITICS AND ACTION FROM BRITAIN

-----

X. Introduction: FASCISM AND THE `LEFT'

1. BNP Annual Rally

2. Defend The Edinburgh 10

3. CELTIC ANTI-FASCISTS: Beating The Fascists In Birmingham

4. Why Is The National Peace Council Promoting Fascism?

5. ANTI-FASCIST ACTION -- Ten Years On

6. The Independent Working Class Association

7. SAOIRSE -- Free Irish Political Prisoners!

8. ANL, YRE, ARA -- Where Are They Now?

9. The New Frontier -- The Growth Of White Power Rock In The
USA And Canada

10. ANTIFA FORUM -- Building For Resistance

-----

ANTIFA INFO-BULLETIN, Volume 1, Number 6

ANTI-FASCIST NEWS, POLITICS AND ACTION FROM BRITAIN

This edition of the AFIB was compiled by Antifa Forum and
includes articles from anti-fascists in England as well as
material from various British left-wing publications. A
statement of intent and contact information is listed at the
bottom.

FASCISM AND THE `LEFT'

(Note: This introduction was written by an anti-fascist in
England not Antifa Forum.)

The BNP [British National Party] over the last ten years has
been the main fascist organisation in the UK. During this time,
even though quite small, the BNP influence has manifest itself in
physical attacks on the black community as well as open marches,
rallies, provocative paper sales and leafleting. The success of
militant anti-fascists in beating the fascists off the streets,
in particular Anti-Fascist Action (AFA), has caused the BNP to
change its strategy from physical confrontation to an election
strategy. The BNP candidates have stood in local and general
elections and scored their biggest success with the election of
Derek Beackon to Tower Hamlets Council in 1993.

Following Beackon's election the media besieged the working
class population of Millwall who were branded racist and fascist.
The election was spoken about in the House of Commons and
suddenly Millwall was on the national agenda. Working class
people in Millwall were not fascist because Beackon was elected;
they had succeeded in drawing a national attention to their
community. A community riven by poor housing and high
unemployment - issues ignored by the Labour Party and Liberal
Council.

The left, particularly in London, have been forced to change
tactics. Instead of just responding to fascist activity, the left
has had to think about uniting working class communities to
resist racism and fascism. This involves a political strategy
that can fill the vacuum created by the Labour Party's
anti-working class politics.

The fascists present an image of racism and
ultra-conservative patriotism. They are able to recruit white
working class youth and rely on the support of the ruling class
(for example, the Monday club) who are able to keep the working
class divided by letting them fight amongst themselves to
preserve their ruling class status. The fascists seem an
attractive proposition to white working class people who are in
despair at the failure of the left (including the Labour Party).
The image of certain left-wing groups parachuting into areas
where fascists are active and telling working class people what
not to do and then leaving the area with the same problem, has
succeeded in the left doing the fascists work for them: ie.
further disillusionment in the left's ability to represent
working class needs. In other words, the failure of the left has
seen the rising influence of the right.

Working class community based anti-fascist groups have
realised that the battle against the fascists is more than
physical confrontation (although this is always an important
factor - particularly since Combat 18 have only physical violence
on their agenda). There is the need to reclaim our working class
communities from fascist/state intimidation. Resistance in
Hackney is one such group whose aim is to build community based
resistance to fascism involving all members of the community: men
women and children, a credible alternative to the politics of
despair. Similarly, AFA are currently working on a political
strategy to defeat fascism through their work with the
Independent Working Class Association (IWCA).

Only where fascism (a direct result of capitalism) exists,
will the working class remain divided and subjected to the full
force of state repression. Fascism has to be smashed so that the
real enemy, the ruling class, can be smashed.

MC

-----

Similar to the situation for us in North America, and
increasingly the world over, the fascists have been forced into
abandoning their street-level work for the time being and in many
cases, consciously opting for a change in tactics. In North
America this decision has allowed them to concentrate on
recruiting and organising in a more mainstream fashion on a
broader playing field. Experience tells us that they'll be back
in the game soon enough and experience has also taught us that if
we are to wage this long war effectively, we must defeat them on
many different levels.

The following includes short news round-ups and material
from some of the organisations who are proactively striving to
fill the vacuum left behind following the recent history of
physical success over the fascists. One noticeable point is that
those who have moved in to fill the vacuum are also the ones who
hold claim to creating that freed space in the first place.

Antifa Forum

*****

BNP ANNUAL RALLY

The British National Party rally was held in east London on
11 November. The debacle revealed the depths of the internal
divisions within the organisation as members defect to Combat 18,
and calls into question fuhrer Tyndall's ability to find the
fifty candidates he promised would stand in the forthcoming
general election. The fiasco can best be described by reading
between the lines of the fascists' own report, in the December
issue of Spearhead:

"Unfortunately a small element in the audience, well
lubricated by drink, engaged in constant chatter during the
speeches which was most discourteous to the speakers,
particularly the party's guests from abroad. Stewards ascertained
that these rowdy elements mainly comprised followers of 'Combat
18', who were making a noise in the hope that in the event of
their being asked to leave they could stage a disturbance and
hold up the meeting - possibly even getting it stopped by the
landlord ... This slightly marred the meeting but the
demonstration of bad manners could have won no friends for Combat
18. This rabble ended their exhibition by plastering their
stickers over the toilets - an appropriate place for their
activity..."

The BNP solemnly claimed that the drunken fiasco was due to
"the sinister workings of John Major's police state". A more
accurate observation might be that Combat 18 can at least
organise a piss up in a brewery, even if Tyndall can't.

(Source: CARF - February/March 1996)

*****

DEFEND THE EDINBURGH 10

Ten members of Anti-Fascist Action (AFA) were arrested in
Edinburgh on Saturday, June 3rd, 1995, after encounters with
fascists, loyalists and the police. AFA had mobilised its
supporters from Scotland and the north-east of England to oppose
the proposed BNP/Loyalist counter-demonstration aimed at stopping
that day's James Connolly Commemoration. Despite large numbers of
fascists and loyalists being arrested, it was only the
anti-fascists who were charged and held over the weekend.

The police operation which led to the arrest of the AFA
members is seriously suspect. As the AFA contingent made its way
towards the march, they were attacked by more than a dozen men.
By the 'casual' nature of their dress and their aggressive
attitude, it was instantly assumed that they must be fascists. It
was only when their attackers appeared to be taking second prize
that they decided to 'break cover' and identified themselves as
police officers! According to press reports, four people were
hospitalised as a result of this incident. The ten anti-fascists
arrested were charged with public order offences such as 'Police
Assault', 'Resisting Arrest' and 'Breach of the Peace'. A
solicitor acting for one of the defendants, who has five charges
against him, has told him that, if found guilty, he can expect a
3 year jail sentence.

Donations to: AFA, PO Box 421, Edinburgh, EH11 1QD

(Follow-up: Out of the 10 arrested, three failed to appear in
court for December's trial while three other defendants had their
cases dropped. However, the state decided to charge the remaining
four who received community service orders. The action on the day
and the follow-up in court have both seen a good result.)

*****

CELTIC ANTI-FASCISTS - Beating The Fascists In Birmingham

On Saturday, 29th July, 1995, thousands of Celtic fans
converged in Birmingham to watch the Bhoys take on Birmingham
City in a pre-season friendly match which ended in the home side
winning 1-0. Off the park, before the match had even begun, there
were clashes between the fascist-led Birmingham hooligans and the
Celtic supporters.

Celtic supporters had been drinking in the Dubliner Public
House and meeting up in Birmingham's "Irish Quarter", Digbeth
when they came under attack from a several hundred strong group
of casuals and fascists. The attacking group appeared to be a
united group of hooligans from various sides in Birmingham and
the West Midlands and under the leadership of well-known fascist
organisers from the area. Obviously the nazis were intent upon
building upon their recent 'success' in Dublin where they managed
to have the friendly match between Ireland and England abandoned.
Celtic Anti-Fascists, casuals and ordinary supporters had other
ideas.

After initial surprise, Celtic supporters fought back and
ran their attackers out of the area. Clashes continued throughout
the day and into the evening with the fascists and hooligans from
Birmingham taking a thorough beating. Despite the violence being
obviously inspired by the fascists, the Birmingham Police decided
to wade into the Celtic fans, whose actions had been of a purely
defensive nature.

At least four Celtic fans were treated for serious head
injuries as a result of police baton charges. Some fans who were
arrested during these charges were later released under caution
after threatening to press charges against the police for their
violent behaviour. A BBC Journalist was later quoted in the local
press saying, "The police baton-charged the Celtic fans for no
reason."

Celtic fans arrested complained of sectarian abuse by the
police. One man was spat upon, had his nose bust open and was
constantly referred to as a "Fenian bastard" by the police in the
van which took him to the station. With England's finest fascists
having taken a surprise beating, the police appeared to make
amends.

Inside Birmingham City's ground, the home support continued
to taunt Celtic supporters with cries of "No Surrender to the
IRA" and waving Red Hand Flags at them. This so incensed
Birmingham's Managing Director, Karen Brady, that at one point
during the match, she left her seat in the director's box and
snatched one of the offending flags from a Birmingham fan who had
been waving it provocatively and giving Nazi salutes. Ms. Brady,
who hails from a London-Irish background herself, was later
quoted as saying, "It had to be done and as no-one else seemed to
be prepared to do it, I did it!" Her statement is also an obvious
criticism of the stewarding and policing inside the ground.
The local media have continued to criticise the heavy-handed
approach of the police to the Celtic fans. A police spokesman
even suggested that it was not the Celtic supporters who were the
instigators of the violence when he said, "We know of the
reputation of Celtic fans when they travel away - it's a party
atmosphere. But we also know of their reputation that if they
come under attack they will stand and fight."

Serious questions have to be asked about the policing of the
fans inside and outside of the ground and throughout the day.
Publicans were able to tell us that Irish bars in Birmingham had
been approached at least two weeks ago and warned to expect more
trouble from fascists and other hooligans who might be preparing
attacks upon their bars and the Celtic fans. If the police had
serious intelligence reports that there was likely to be
fascist-inspired violence, why did they fail to keep the fascists
out of Digbeth - or do the Birmingham police have their own
agenda regarding such matters?

In the end it was the magnificent supporters of Celtic who
managed to turn the tables on the Nazis. It is clear that the
fascist hooligans are using these games as practice for next
year's European Championships to be held in England. Celtic
Anti-Fascists together with Anti-Fascist Action are determined to
reclaim the game from the Nazis on the terraces. Next year's
championships will not be a showdown between various
international hooligan groups as the championships have been in
the past. Rather, they will be a showdown between the forces of
fascism and anti-fascism in Europe. We are in no doubt which side
Celtic fans will be on and we are determined that the
anti-fascists will win.

Celtic Anti-Fascists Press Release

*****

SAOIRSE - Free Irish Political Prisoners!

(Note: While this piece is a bit old, it nonetheless gives a
good overview of the conditions facing Irish political prisoners
in England as well as info about the Saoirse vibrant campaign
organized to support them. Since this article was published the
IRA ceasefire has ended and Saoirse has been disbanded by Sinn
Fein.)

Over a year-on from the Irish Republican Army's historic
ceasefire declaration, we are faced with the harsh reality that
conditions for Irish political prisoners in Britain have actually
deteriorated, with POWs being forced to embark on a blanket
protest to draw attention to their plight.

Coupled to the British governments release of Cleggg and
their derisory offer of 50% remission, this calculated
'two-fingers' to the Nationalist community has elevated the
importance of the role played by the Saoirse campaign.

Since our last report in these pages (referring to Red
Action's newspaper, see below - ed.] on the Saoirse (Freedom)
Campaign we have seen its rapid development in London. As
activists within the London branch we believed it was necessary
for the campaign to set itself certain tasks for the summer
months. Primarily these tasks were to:

a) establish the name of Saoirse and its credentials as an
authentic campaign.

b) to draw attention to the continued imprisonment of Irish POWs,
particularly those who have been subject to increasingly
deteriorating conditions.

c) to draw in the activists necessary to carry out the work by
involving the Irish community as a matter of a priority.

Armed with a strategy that would see us focusing our work
around a rolling program of events designed to capture both the
public's and the media's imagination, the activists have set
about building a vibrant and dynamic campaign. Saoirse's strength
has also been it's ability to unite a broad spectrum of
individual activists and members of organisations that range from
Irish Republican, to Irish cultural, through to Left and other
progressive groups; all under the single demand to free Irish
political prisoners. Another important aspect has been the
involvement and input from relatives of Irish POWs, living in
England, who for so long have been isolated, and also the high
proportion of women activists (often more than half) who make up
the core of the campaign. Although the campaign had made an
initially slow start it kicked into gear with a week of action in
early June. The following are the highlights from a London
Saoirse activist's diary....

EXTREMELY EMBARASSING!

June 3 kicked off our first 'Week of Action'. We were
determined to do it in style and deliver our message to the heart
of Westminster. First, a 45 foot long banner calling for the
British government to "Free All Irish Political Prisoners Now!"
was hung from Westminster Bridge facing the nearby House of
Commons. It was in place for a full 30 minutes before being
finally removed by the police, who whined to Saoirse campaigners
whom they suspected of being involved in the stunt that the
incident had been "extremely embarrassing" for them!

Meanwhile the statue of former Para commander Field Marshall
Montgomery and other military figures who line Whitehall and
stand directly opposite Downing Street sported placards also
calling for the release of the POWs. Not to be outdone, the same
day campaigners in North London unfurled another large banner
bearing the same message from Archway bridge, which straddles the
busy A1 road. During that week other events included a forty
strong picket of Downing Street highlighting the case of Irish
POW Sean McNulty and a demonstration outside the Home Office on
the day that Clegg's case went before the review board. There was
leafleting in Kilburn and at the London Fleadh; and Saoirse
posters and graffiti covered areas of Camden, Tottenham, Hackney,
Finsbury Park and Kilburn! Though pleased to have completed our
first comprehensive series of events, we still had to make a
breakthrough into the mainstream media. This was all to change
with the release of one Private Clegg.

CLEGG OUT, ALL OUT!

July 3rd: Although we could not quite match the vigour of
the protests in Ireland, where half of Belfast appeared to be
ablaze, we had planned a noisy picket outside the Home Office,
and seizing the opportunity presented by the Tories' leadership
election, the picket moved to Westminster Green to gate-crash the
live interviews of the Tory MPs. Transport Minister Brian
Mawhinney came face to face with Saoirse demonstrators who
offered him a leaflet. Mawhinney appeared too shocked to say
anything coherent and just muttered 'Go away, go away'!

The next day, the day the election result was announced,
Saoirse again went to Westminster Green, and again achieved live
international TV coverage at the expense of the Tory MPs who
struggled to maintain their composure. Shouts of "Clegg Out, All
Out!" and Saoirse banners and placards were clearly seen and
heard on live TV with presenters complaining that their
interviews could not be heard because of the disruption. Three
days later, London Saoirse was back on the streets - and on TV -
again. Our demonstration outside the Court of Appeal in support
of Paul Norney received broad TV coverage.

We had achieved international TV coverage 3 days out of five
that week, taking the Saoirse message into millions of homes
throughout Britain. We were further buoyed-up by the news that
both people in Ireland and a large number of POWs themselves, had
phoned to say that it had given them a terrific boost. While we
systematically worked the Irish festivals; it was the
blanket/dirty protests in Whitemoor jail that demanded that we
'up' our activity again.

July 22: Members of London Saoirse staged a mock blanket
protest in London's Kilburn Square to highlight the cases of
Irish POWs in Whitemoor Prison who were staging a 'dirty/blanket'
protest against the conditions under which they were being held.
Over a thousand leaflets were distributed to local people.

July 26: Travelling further afield, members of London
Saoirse joined the fans headed for the St. Pauli v Celtic game in
Hamburg, Germany. Campaigners enjoyed an excellent response from
both sets of fans, and completely ran out of Saoirse T-shirts and
ribbons. Hundreds of pounds were raised for the campaign.

July 28: London Saoirse staged a protest calling for "Clegg
Out, All Out!", outside the Royal Tournament in London's Earls
Court. This peaceful demonstration was immediately met by 80 of
London's riot squad, the TSG, wearing body armour. Campaigners
held a disciplined protest which disappointed the large number of
police and military present who clearly anticipated something
more ambitious.

August 6: a cavalcade of twenty vehicles, with Irish
tricolours and green ribbons flying, converged on Whitemoor
prison, Cambridgeshire in support of the blanket protest.
Following a two-hour picket by over 80 Saoirse supporters the
cavalcade then wound its way nicely to the Conservative and
Unionist Club in the nearby town of March. To the utter
bewilderment of the local Tories, tricolour waving demonstrators
occupied the club's bar, shouting "Clegg Out, All Out!"

August 31 was an important anniversary for London Saoirse,
as it signified exactly a year since the IRA's ceasefire
announcement as well as the completion of the first six months of
our work. Saoirse supporters joined the rally at Trafalgar Square