Saturday 6th Oct saw about 70/75 anti-fascists gather at the Murray Library on Chester Road in Sunderland for a counter demonstration against the combined fascist threat of the the Infidels and the Northern Patriotic Front (fomerly the north-east branch of the National Front). Besides the usual mixture of anarchists, leftists and liberals, there was a large and lively group of around 20/30 local Asian youth, many of whom were masked up, making for a militant atmosphere on the march, which the UAF contingent repeatedly tried to dampen by stopping the march, demanding it slow down and constantly trying to herd the youths back behind the banners.
The march itself was short – straight up Chester Road before turning off to St Mark’s Road. We had heard from a comrade that the fascists were drinking in The Chesters pub, further up the road. Clearly buzzing on the experience of being part of a mass march, causing gridlock on one of Sunderland’s main arterial roads, the Asian kids went straight past St Mark’s Road, aiming for the pub where the fascists were drinking. However, a combination of the police and UAF ‘leadership’ turned the march to its original destination on St Mark’s Road.
Once on St Mark’s Road, police EG squads appeared. We reached the end of the march at the Hylton Road end at about 12:40. The anti-fascists occupied a defensive position, protecting the target of the fascists – the site of a proposed mosque. Here, one of the UAF lot made a daft speech claiming victory twenty minutes before the fascists were even due to turn up. The first fascists appeared about 1pm – about 20 of the NPF. Barred from bringing any of their usual NF banners and flags by the Infidels (they had said it would give the wrong impression!) and evidently unhappy with the numbers of anti-fascists, the NPF contingent were subdued – not their usual rabid selves. Outnumbering the NPF several times over, the anti-fascists were vocal.
Then the EDL/SDL/Infidels turned up, about 100, and a real confrontation took place. Elderly anti-fascists who attended put the experienced and younger left/anarchist people who did not turn out to shame.
The newly-arrived fascists immediately started to throw bangers – some 20-25 of them in total – beer bottles, sticks and stones at the anti-fascists, who held their ground, giving slogans and verbals back in spades. Several anti-fascists were hit by missiles thrown by the EDL, but no serious injuries were suffered by our side. The immediate result of the fascist barrage was that several Asian youths broke through the police line in an attempt to get at the fascists. Far from being intimidated, the local youths became more militant and determined to fight back against the stupid fascist aggression, with large numbers charging off to meet the fascists as they attempted to get around behind the police lines through the back streets.
The far-right only had bizarre and fantasy slogans such as “No Mosque at Ground Zero” – who knew that Sunderland could be mistaken for New York? “Deport Pakistani paedophiles”, but we do not know of any in Sunderland, and the usual tedious accusations that the anti-fascists were “all paedophiles”, which is also plainly rubbish. The fascists were not locals, as there was a Blackburn EDL banner and seemingly all of their placards were SDL ones. If that is the best their Northern divisions can do, it’s embarrassing for them. Their rank and file are being used for nothing, the fascist leadership stood toward the back and let their young ones have a go. But, to what end? They had 13 arrests – 10% of their turn-out – and more are sure to follow, and yet they gained nothing. They cannot keep this up or there will be nothing left as they recruited none and alienated many.
The police took a couple of bottles at the back of their heads, bangers at their feet, but their bosses did not order a move against the criminals responsible. The police intelligence was poor and they were slow to protect their own officers, they failed to address the public order offences committed throughout the demonstration.
The brave anti-fascists stood their ground and eventually, after much aggro, the fascists retreated and we waived “Bye Bye” at them. Next time we will have more numbers, and they will not pass again.
Before the march liberals said that the anti fascist mobilisation will ‘be peaceful’ but this only attempts to tie the movement’s hands. Also, turning the march away from where the fascists are was just controlling the march so they could proclaim a ‘victory’ which was nothing of the sort. When faced with organised fascist violence it is essential to defend ourselves. The fascists were not interested in democratic debate or a real discussion.
Liberals are deluded if they think we should “turn the other cheek”. WE SAY BOLLOCKS. Fascists attack – WE FIGHT BACK. The local Asian youths did themselves – and our city – proud with a great display of militancy and courage. That is exactly what the anti-fascist movement needs if we are to move beyond merely symbolic victories to actually sweeping the fascist scum off our streets. The UAF control of the march was a problem and the UAF proclaiming a victory on the megaphone against the fascists before the EDL/SDL had arrived was and is fantasy, if anything it was around a score draw taking everything into consideration.
The truth is that the UAF mobilisation was pitiful, it was the anarchists and the Asian youth who supplied the militancy and numbers. Anybody with a political brain will review the day and realise that the UAF attempts leadership are a dead end. For the fascists, it was a bizarre booze fuelled outing which many will suffer for, and got them nothing. They did not pass.