Some 20 supporters of the Nazi English Defence League (EDL) asked police to escort them out of central Cambridge early as they were outnumbered by a counter protest.
Up to 1,000 trade unionists, socialists and campaigners marched through the city yesterday, Saturday, in a demonstration called by Unite Against Fascism (UAF).
The EDL’s small protest gathered in a pen in Christ's Pieces park. A few more Nazis stayed in pubs in the face of overwhelming opposition from the town.
The EDL’s previous attempt to protest in Cambridge in July 2011 was also met by mass protests, so this was their second humiliation. At the end of the demonstration anti-racists chanted, “Cambridge two, EDL nil” and water, samosas and sweet mint tea were handed out. By then the EDL had asked the police to escort them out early because they were so massively outnumbered.
Groups of young people—black, white and Asian—joined the counter demonstration as it wound through the main shopping streets and markets. The narrow streets rang with their chants of “Nazi scum off our streets” and “Who’s Streets? Our streets!”
At the opening rally speakers from trade unions, the Cambridge Muslim Council and the Labour Party stressed the need to stand up to racism and fascism.
To loud applause, local MEP Richard Howitt welcomed the building of the new Mills Road mosque and the multicultural event planned for its opening. The EDL has been trying to whip up race hate against it ever since the council approved its plans.
Tony Lennox from South East Region TUC said that the EDL scapegoat minorities. He said, “Benefits subsidise bad employers, that’s what we should be worried about. And there’s no social and affordable housing—that’s the problem, not who gets anything in this system. The EDL are the real minority.”
Uzma came with her family and spoke to Socialist Worker, “We have come here today because we’re against the extremism of the EDL and BNP. We’ve been touched by the support of socialists.”
Weyman Bennett, joint chair of UAF, told Socialist Worker, “The Nazis ran away. This is a victory for trade unionists, Muslims and everyone who turned out in their hundreds. We have to stand together against racist murders. The EDL now feel weak, we feel strong. They didn’t march, we did—we won.”