Opposing the EDL in Dudley – reports and thoughts

9 02 2015

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Some brief reports and thoughts from Dudley at the weekend.

Local and national media mostly seem to be repeating the police’s figures of 600 EDL and 50 anti-fascists. There are some divergences from this. Some media organisations estimated up to 1000 EDL. The UAF stated there were “several hundred” at their counter-demonstration to the EDL.

Midlands Anti-Fascists who called for a counter-mobilisation to the EDL reported:

“We didn’t have the best of days yesterday, with 27 Antifa being locked up for the day as a preventative measure. However, absolute solidarity to Berkshire Anti-Fascists, North London Anti-Fascists and Brighton Anti-Fascists for travelling up to support us. Yesterday we saw the fash protected by the police and the UAF stand around having their jolly as usual completely away from the EDL. Don’t believe the hype, it might have been reported that a militant wing of the UAF split off from the unity rally, but that was us and not them. As per.”

Arrest figures coming from the police confirm this preventative arrest of approximately 27 anti-fascists who were then released without charge.

We will post any further info and updates on what happened in Dudley as and when we get it.

dudleyrally

The UAF rally in Dudley

“not racist, not violent”?

Central Dudley was largely deserted on Saturday with many shops closed and boarded up. This is due to the experience of previous EDL demonstrations in the town. But what could the good people of Dudley possibly have to fear from the “not racist, not violent” EDL?

Just to put things in context – Dudley has been the scene of some of the EDL’s worst racist violence which gives the lie to their shtick that it is only ever anti-fascists that cause trouble and that were it not for people opposing them there would be nothing to fear.

In April 2010 around 2000 EDL came to Dudley who fought their own stewards to break out of their pen in a car park. They tore down metal fences and threw metal brackets at the cops and then ran into town on the rampage.

In July 2010, 600 EDL members terrorised Dudley again, targetting property and people in town including attacking the Dudley central mosque. Several people were injured and 21 arrested.

The EDL again pulled down steel fences and hurled missles at the cops in order to escape and loose their fury on the Asian population of the town – “Houses and cars were damaged… homes in Alexandra Street, cars parked in roads surrounding Stafford Street, restaurants in Wolverhampton Street and the Hindu Temple were all attacked by vandals… a number of vehicles were also targeted as they were being driven through the town”

The irony and stupidity of the EDL attacking a Hindu temple should not distract us from the fact that it reveals their essential racism – Muslims are simply the group they hate the most. They aren’t too picky about distinguishing between different people of colour.

Individuals on the streets were also targetted in racist attacks.

Ahead of Saturday’s demo EDL members were threatening to burn down the as-yet unbuilt new mosque, which is pretty standard fare for EDL forums and Facebook threads. These threats were repeated and applauded by the crowd on Saturday. Based on their past form in Dudley and on the number of far-right linked arson and bomb attacks on mosques and Muslim institutions across the country over the last few years, these things cannot unfortunately be dismissed as empty threats.

Spencer-Shirley-Burn-mosque

And yet on Saturday who was arrested en masse to prevent a breach of the peace? Anti-fascists.

Upping our game

The anti-fascist and anti-racist response to the EDL in Dudley on Saturday was not impressive. So all the more respect to those who did take to the streets to make a stand in whatever way. This weekend indicates that the EDL is not a joke, it isn’t dead and it hasn’t gone away.

It is vocal and visible opposition to the EDL on the streets, however small, that lets people know that not everyone supports them.

Having an opposition on the streets constrains what the EDL can do, even without directly confronting them – the police restrict their marches, alter the routes, hurry them in and out of town etc. The more effective our opposition, the less they are able to publicly spread their hatred, the less chance of them turning into an out of control racist mob, the less chance of the same number of them coming back next time.

Merely laughing at them or mocking them is not an adequate response. When hundreds of racists are marching through our towns and cities then all anti-racists and anti-fascists need to recognise that we must up our game in order to be able to effectively oppose them on the streets.

If you are interested in working with us to make this happen, get in touch.

social duty


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