Boro community rejects the racist EDL

1 07 2014

borobig

This Saturday saw the people of Teesside take to the streets to oppose a national EDL demo in Middlesbrough.

Our previous posts have covered in detail the supposed rationale behind the EDL demo (‘grooming’ appears to have overtaken terrorism as their current favourite thing to blame all Muslims for). Sterling work was put in by North East Anti-Fascists and Teesside Solidarity Movement to create a broad-based local opposition to the fascists.

On the day about 200 anti-fascists gathered. There had been a call out to dress in red and to bring red banners and flags to go with the organising theme ‘We are Boro’. Red being the colour of Middlesbrough FC and the traditional colour of workers’ solidarity.

The counter-demo was supported by Unison, Unite, the local TUC and the Teesside People’s Assembly and made its way with drumming, chanting and singing to a rally in the centre of town.

The EDL demo numbered about 300, which seems to be about par for the course these days with national EDL demos – a far cry from the days when they could get 2000 on a similar outing in the North East – although still 300 too many for us. Continued anti-fascist organising is needed to keep them under pressure and ensure that their numbers continue to shrink down to our preferred level of zero.

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EDL smaller and nastier

As we predicted in our previous post in advance of the Middlesbrough demo: “although the EDL are smaller, they are if anything even nastier than they ever were – reduced to a hardcore who aren’t bothered that everyone knows now that the EDL are a racist mob.”

The fascists certainly lived up to expectations in that respect on Saturday and showed everyone their true colours. One local comrade reported:

“When I got there some Asian lads were being called paedophiles, rapists, terrorists etc for just sitting near… so I went and stood by them (as did a few others) I was then called a rapist, a paedophile, a ‘paki’ lover, told repeatedly I’m a traitor and the icing on the cake (after numerous photos that will end up no doubt on redwatch) that they were going to come to my house and slit my throat.”

Local newspapers also reported the EDL yelling Islamophobic abuse at passing Muslims and chanting ‘scum’ and throwing missiles at Asian people (including children) in the town.

They also failed to endear themselves to the people of Middlesbrough by randomly throwing glass bottles and fireworks at crowds of people in the town centre. One woman cut her foot on a glass bottle thrown by the EDL and children avoided fireworks mostly by luck.

Middlesbrough locals were not intimidated however and let the racist mob know they were not welcome in town.

Racist nonsense

Self-contradictory racist nonsense was to the fore also in what the EDL had to say for themselves. Their demo was supposedly against ‘Muslim grooming gangs’ but someone obviously wandered off-message as they announced from the stage: “Don’t say this is not a race issue.” Hadn’t they been told that ‘Islam is not a race’? This hackneyed excuse is always trotted out as the EDL’s all-purpose get-out clause from accusations of racism, but obviously the EDL’s instinctive racism will show through. Maybe we shouldn’t be very surprised when the mask slips – when they were in Newcastle in 2013 the EDL’s North East regional organiser Alan Spence announced to applause and cheers from the crowd that they should “send the black cunts home”.

The EDL on Saturday also winningly announced that “The peaceful majority are irrelevant”. A charming doctrine that is presumably trying to argue the case against their own irrelevance as an obviously violent minority hate group.

Top marks for paranoid racist idiocy however has to go to the speaker who announced to the crowd that “my dogs were poisoned by Muslims.” Who knew the tentacles of the global Jihadist conspiracy could reach so far? Was it done on orders direct from Ayman al-Zawahiri? I think we should be told.

Community organising

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The actual demo on the day is only half the story however. The counter-demo to the EDL was made up of local people, whereas the fascists had come from all over – some from as far away as London and Scotland. According to North East Anti-Fascists: “approximately 95% of the anti-fascists were from Teesside. Compare that with the EDL group made up of approximately 90% non-Teessiders. They made no significant inroads into the local population with this national demonstration – we built our strength and so it is us who are left in a stronger situation as a result of the fascist EDL national demonstration in Middlesbrough… We organised locally and did excellent outreach work, bringing new people into our organising networks”

It is this ongoing hard work of talking to people and getting out in the local area that sets down roots, building a constituency of opposition to the racists. This becomes vitally important if the EDL ever decide to come back to the area.

Onward and Upward

The next mobilisation for anti-fascists in the North is in Berwick-upon-Tweed this coming Saturday as the local TUC, supported by other anti-racists and anti-fascists organise to oppose a demo by the Scottish Defence League and the North East Infidels. Both these groups are even smaller and nastier splinter groups of the EDL.

See you on the streets!

North East Anti-Fascists: Facebook // Twitter

Teesside Solidarity Movement: Facebook // Twitter

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