The fascist English Defence League (EDL) is threatening to descend on Walthamstow, east London, on Saturday 27 October. The racists hope to spread fear among Muslims and whip up violence.
But they suffered a humiliating defeat there last month when thousands of anti-racists blocked their route. Now protesters are preparing to stop them again.
Coaches will bring anti-fascists to Walthamstow from across Britain. And in the area itself there is widespread opposition to the fascists.
More than 130 people came to a public meeting to prepare for the protest on Tuesday of last week. The We Are Waltham Forest and Unite Against Fascism (UAF) groups called the meeting.
People were in a confident mood following the success of last month’s mobilisation. Jennette Arnold, the Labour London Assembly member for North East London, 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, was furious that tube managers had allowed the EDL on the trains last time. “Last time we beat them,” he said. “The RMT will work hard to ensure the EDL has no platform—on the streets or Underground.”
Many speakers argued that getting another mass turnout on the streets of Walthamstow would be 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 last month, Waltham Forest council called on people not to demonstrate against the EDL. This time it is promising a “community event” but refusing to back any kind of protest.
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.
Dean Harris from Waltham Forest UAF told Socialist Worker, “People are very definite that they’re joining the march and are very angry that the EDL is coming back.
“We’ve had a fantastic response. Over 90 percent of the shops we visited have put up posters. We have also visited churches and leafleted mosques. As one person at a mosque said, ‘We’re not staying home to let them march’.”
More than 400 anti-fascists rallied in Rotherham’s main square on Saturday of last week. The event was organised by Unite Against Fascism (UAF) to oppose the fascist thugs of the English Defence League (EDL).
The EDL has tried to whip up racism over the issue of sexual exploitation of young girls in the south Yorkshire town. But they are hypocrites who care nothing about the victims of sexual violence. They are only interested in attacking Asian people and Muslims.
About 250 of the racists collected outside the town hall. Neither the EDL leader Tommy Robinson or his deputy Kev Carroll turned up. Meanwhile anti-racists gathered to protect the largest mosque from the EDL.
The UAF rally was a sea of Unite, GMB and PCS union flags. Ben Morris from the NUT union said to cheers, “Black and white unite to fight the fascists and the Tories.”
Rotherham Labour MPs John Healey and Denis MacShane spoke at the rally and congratulated UAF for organising it. People refused to let the EDL use the abuse scandal for their own ends.
Pat Keenan, president of Rotherham trades council, spoke at a packed public meeting. He said, “The EDL’s attempts to spread racist myths about sexual exploitation must be exposed and challenged.
“Sexual predators and paedophiles exist in all communities as do their victims. Everyone has a responsibility to challenge such crimes and support the victims.”
March to stop the EDL. Saturday 27 October, 11am, Walthamstow town centre. Go to uaf.org.uk