Over 130 people crammed into a public meeting in Walthamstow, east London, on Tuesday night to organise against the latest threat from the fascist English Defence League (EDL).
The EDL suffered a humiliating defeat in Walthamstow at the beginning of September, but is threatening to return to the area on 27 October.
The meeting, organised by We Are Waltham Forest and Unite Against Fascism, was in a confident mood after successfully mobilising thousands of people to block the EDL’s march route last month.
Local London Assembly member Jennette Arnold told the meeting, “I’m very proud I was with you on 1 September. We stopped them in their tracks. We demonstrated what unity can bring about—it was people-power at its best.”
Glenroy Watson, a tube driver from the RMT union, echoed this sentiment. “Last time we routed them. The RMT will work hard to ensure the EDL has no platform—on the streets or underground.”
Many of the speakers argued that getting another mass turnout on the streets of Walthamstow would the key to defeating the EDL.
“Last time we had to convince our elders that we could not stay at home and had to make a stand,” said Irfan Akhtar from the Waltham Forest Council of Mosques. “Now, unanimously all our members are coming out.”
Chaz Singh from the local UAF group said, “We didn’t let them pass last time and we won’t let them pass on 27 October. It shows we respect ourselves and shows the potential for the kind of society we want.”
Despite the wide backing for the anti-fascist march in September, Waltham Forest council called on people to not to demonstrate against the EDL.
This time the council is promising a “community event” on 27 October but is still refusing to back any kind of protest or demonstration. The council is also calling on the home secretary to ban the EDL march—though the police have said they will not seek a ban.
A minority at the meeting backed the calls for a ban, including local Labour MP Stella Creasy. But Jennette Arnold spoke for most of the room when she underlined the need for mass action against the EDL.
“We have to march—we cannot ignore them,” she said. Irfan Akhtar added, “We don’t need to know what the EDL is planning—we must mobilise now.”
We Are Waltham Forest and Unite Against Fascism are planning a day of action in Walthamstow this Saturday 13 October to leaflet and poster for the anti-fascist demo. Assemble 12 noon at the Town Square by NatWest Bank. Go to uaf.org.uk for leaflets and details of transport for the 27 October demonstration.