Reports and thoughts from Saturday’s anti-fascist actions

7 07 2015
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Hundreds of anti-fascists drown out 23 Nazis in a cage on Whitehall

Saturday was a very busy day for anti-fascists as the full spectrum of far-right racists took to the streets of Britain. The targets of their hatred were Jews and Muslims. And Jews and Muslims stood up to oppose them, together with local people, trade unionists, and anti-fascist and anti-racist groups who all joined forces against the far-right.

The events of Saturday are very instructive in showing where the far-right and its opposition is currently at in Britain.

In Sheffield we had an EDL national demo. The EDL was once by far the largest far-right street movement in Britain. On Saturday they pulled about 200 people on to the streets, which shows the extent of their decline. In Stockton-on-Tees, a demo called by the EDL splinter group the North East Infidels brought out a whole coalition of groups to the right of the EDL who got almost the same numbers as the ‘official’ EDL – about 150.

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EDL admit the truth

The EDL appears now to be merely one group amongst many in the fragmenting world of the far-right. All of the splitting is in one direction however. As the far-right divides into smaller groups, they are all moving further to the right, into more and more overt racism and white supremacist politics. In London on Saturday we saw the end product of the process as out-and-out Nazis held a demo against ‘Jewification’.

The Infidels groups who were marching in Stockton are a good example of what has happened. They started as members of the EDL, theoretically at least committed to its official position that it only opposes ‘militant Islam’. The Infidel groups and the other EDL splinter groups like the South East Alliance have moved steadily to the right and now regularly ally with the likes of the National Front. Infidels were even seen recently at a demo outside the American embassy commemorating David Lane, the convicted neo-Nazi terrorist. The EDL are now nominally the least extreme section of the far-right.

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NWI at neo-Nazi protest, American embassy, 23rd May 2015

Despite on paper being distinct groups, in actual fact there is a huge amount of cross-over in the far-right. Saturday gave us a good example of that. In Sheffield we had the EDL who attempt to maintain their (never very plausible) line that they are merely against ‘militant Islam’. But then in Stockton, what’s this? Teesside EDL with their “not racist, not violent” banner marching side by side with the National Front, proudly carrying their banner emblazoned with the neo-Nazi ’14 words’ invented by Nazi murderer David Lane. And in London, at the far end of the far-right spectrum, on the demo promoted by Joshua Bonehill with images of Auschwitz and jokes about gas chambers, here’s Eddie Stampton with a ‘white pride’ flag displaying the same ’14 words’.

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The EDL try rather hopelessly to maintain the ‘party line’

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EDL marching with NF ’14 words’ banner in Stockton

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Eddie Stampton with White Pride ’14 words’ flag

As we have consistently argued,  it’s not very far on the far-right from EDL members who will claim they are not racist ‘because Islam isn’t a race’ to people who will happily describe themselves as Nazis.

Here’s a round-up of reports from the different locations:

Sheffield: ‘Any racist march is a threat to our communities’

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Sheffield AFN report:

“Thanks to everyone who came out today. The level of policing was ridiculous, with dogs and horses used to prevent us getting near to the EDL and anti-fascists given dispersal orders so they had to leave the city, so there are definitely conversations to be had about how to react in the face of that level of police repression.

The EDL got out around 200 people, which is a fraction of what they could once get on the street, and 0.1% of the number who marched in London against austerity two weeks ago, but any racist march is still a threat to our communities.

The EDL leadership claim that they are only against “Muslim extremists” but as always, EDL members were dishing out widespread and indiscriminate racist abuse. They claimed they didn’t want to disrupt Pride, but queer anti-racists were subject to homophobic abuse.

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We need to talk about tactics for demonstrations, but as important in fighting fascism are the day-to-day efforts we’re making to work across communities to fight for real change – not blaming Muslims or migrants for our working and living conditions but working with those in our workplaces and communities to fight for a better life for all of us.

SAFN plans to meet soon to discuss what lessons we can draw from today and to continue to plan for future anti-fascist activity, like the White Man March on 15th August in Liverpool.”

London: ‘Mad ZOGs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun’

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Brighton Anti-Fascists report back on Westminster demo:

“Today self-publicist Eddie Stampton’s attempt to intimidate the Jewish community of Golder’s Green degenerated into an at-times painfully hilarious farce. Around two dozen hardcore neo-nazis (half of them Polish immigrants) where marched into a pen, inside a cage, inside another pen, opposite Downing Street, to attempt to “de-jewify” Britain.

In what looked depressingly like an episode of American History X-Factor, each of the boneheads took a turn on the mic, trying to wow an increasingly hostile antifascist crowd with renditions of such classics as “It was the Jews what done it” and “You’re all agents of ZOG”. Particularly of note was White Supremacist Piers Mellor’s rousing chorus of “Hordes from the East”, delivered with all the rhetorical flair of depressed Dalek. A special shout-out should go to Kevin Layzell, but we think it would be unfair to make him cry twice in one day.

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Farce became pantomime when the batteries in Eddie’s microphone ran flat, rendering the rest of the speeches inaudible. Ever heard of Duracell Eddie? Or are they a Zionist plot?

Finally reduced to taunting the assembled antifascists with a pork pie, the fascists were marched off under heavy manners into Westminster tube. A Nuremburg rally. it was not, which begs why he mainstream media found it all so interesting. In the end, it was more Benny Hill than Leni Riefenstahl.”

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Stockton: ‘Wake up to anti-fascism’

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North East Anti-Fascists thoughts on the day:

“NEAF called an anti-fascist protest against the North East Infidels in Stockton today back in April, and since then other Nazi demos emerged today in London and Sheffield. So it was likely that this would be a low key affair, and it was.

The fascist demo through the main street was 3 ordinary buildings wide, from front banner to end. Before the demo we estimated that they would pull a 100, it seems like there were less than that on the demo.

We thought their demo was pitifully small by their standards – they have done better in Sunderland and Washington. Until we see photos and do an actual headcount we are guessing 60-80. However, out of public view we are told that there was a 100 at their rally point and possibly more, but again, until we see photos we cannot confirm that cos we did not see it.

On our side we counted 36-40 at one point, and possibly more, it was a conservative count, cos there were many people around and it was busy. However, considering the LACK of work which went into this demo it was just about ok, but we SHOULD take it as a lesson in how NOT to prepare ourselves. EG> Unlike Hartlepool, when NEAF went street leafletting a couple of times, we didn’t do the work for it, and our social media operation wasn’t as good as it can be either.

Some highlights include a busker who from Romania and Russia who, when asked, did an impromptu freestyle jazzy version of the International! He was an older guy playing with a younger one who grew up when the Soviet bloc was in existence so they knew the tune! Coming from countries that remember the fierce fighting and the defeat of the Nazis during World War 2.

TO conclude;

NEAF called this demo publically back in April so at least we tried, the left cannot use the excuse that they ‘didn’t know about it’.
UNTIL the left (and we are including anarchists in ‘the left’ so our targeting is broad) wakes up in anti fascist, and more, terms, we will continue to underperform as a movement.”

Moving on…

Work with us to help make anti-fascism more effective and to turn the tide against the far-right and the rise of racism. Check the calendar for upcoming anti-fascist action dates and our listings of local groups for one near you.

Contact us: afncontact@riseup.net


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