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(en) Britain, Freedom* , ANTI-FASCISM OUT ON THE STREETS

Date Thu, 15 Mar 2012 12:47:45 +0200


A weekend of anti-fascist action as EDL, SDL and BNP attempt to stir racial unrest around the country ---- Saturday 25th February saw protests and demonstrations organised by reactionary and right wing groups on the back of recent events in an attempt to gain public support and recognition for their politics of racial and social division. ---- The English Defence League (EDL) and British National Party (BNP) were out in Greater Manchester trying to make political capital out of a recent incident where a young white man was attacked by a group of Asian males, while in Glasgow the Scottish Defence League (SDL), buoyed by the recent ‘success’, with an assortment of nationalist and racist groups, of preventing an Irish republican march going ahead in Liverpool called for a demonstration in Glasgow.

The SDL, having been refused permission to hold a march, opted for a static demonstration in St Enoch Square in the centre of the city. Unite Against Fascism, the liberal left front group of the SWP had set up an information stall and gathering under the banner ‘Celebrating Multicultural Glasgow’ but it was Glasgow Anti-Fascist Alliance (GAFA), made up of militants and anarchists, who provided a more coherent and dynamic response on the day – amongst other things organising to protect the Palestinian Human Rights Campaign stall which had been attacked by the SDL previously. The anti-fascist wing of the Celtic football club supporters, The Green Brigade, were also out and about.

In total there were around 200 militant anti-fascists in the city to counter the presence of the SDL and their assorted friends – North West Infidels and North East Infidels (both splinter groups from the EDL) were present, which numbered no more than 60 and were for the most part surrounded by a police cordon for their ‘demonstration’.

As the report back from Glasgow anarchists stated “One of my favourite memories of the day was when the Palestine stall felt a bit too exposed as the circling sharks began increasing, and texted to St Enoch that we could do with a few more antifa around. Within a few minutes a beautiful sight appeared as 50-70 antifascists confidently and loudly marched up Buchanan St, masked up, black flags waving. The streets were ours to demonstrate on today, and the fascists were reduced to scurrying around”

However they refused to be complacent about the job required to confront fascists. As they themselves admitted: ” we can do better. We need a debrief and a proper plan for next time. We need literature ready to roll. We need a decent communications network. We need to be ready to properly build for counter demos. And as the SDL will now have to retreat back into flashmobs and small word of mouth fly by attacks on the Palestine stall we need a proper strategy to sustainably defend it”.

It is this kind of critical self analysis, recognising what needs to be done, that puts militant anti-fascism at the forefront of organising against the far right.

Meanwhile both the EDL and BNP were out in Hyde, Greater Manchester following recent reports that two young white males were attacked in the area by what was described as a group of eight Asian males. The police stated they were treating it as a racially motivated attack. The BNP attempted to leaflet the area but ended up as a simple photo opportunity on a turn out of less than a hundred people from an organisation which claims to be the country’s “the fourth biggest political party”.

The EDL also held a demonstration in Hyde on the same day but could only muster between 600-800 as part of a national call-out. Their demonstration was held in a car park surrounded by police and provided little in terms of engagement with the local population, although it was clear they were allowed to ‘march’ through the streets to their destination point. There was no formal or visible counter protest to the EDL, apart from the locals.

The family of the boy who was seriously injured in the attack distanced themselves from the EDL’s protest stating: “The EDL have decided to do this and it’s got nothing to do with us whatsoever. We don’t want this march to go ahead. It’s not going to change anything – it won’t make anything better it will just cause more problems. I certainly don’t want Daniel’s name dragged into something we don’t agree with.”

Racial tensions have increased in the north over recent weeks with the highly contentious court case involving a group of Asian men charged with grooming young girls for sex in Heywood area of Rochdale. A local take away was attacked by a group of some 200 youths in response to the ongoing trial which again has inflamed massive tensions amongst the different communities in the area.

As anarchist anti-fascists we must be able to respond politically to this increase in confidence and activity of the far right on the street. This summer may well be a serious wake-up call for anarchists in terms of how we have no option but to organise to confront the far right.

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