Saturday, September 08, 2012

Waltham Forest people block EDL march


by New Worker

THE ISLAMOPHOBIC English National Defence League suffered yet another humiliating defeat last Saturday, this time at the hands of the local residents of Waltham Forest in north-east London.
The EDL leader, Tommy Robinson, also known as Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, was hoping to re-establish his authority over this mob of racist thugs, football hooligans and ex-soldiers, after recent attempts to march the EDL through Brighton, Bristol, Chelmsford and other places had been thwarted by local residents.
 Robinson had organised a march of his followers from Blackhorse Tube station, along Forest Road to a spot in front of the local magistrates’ court, where he and a few of his lieutenants would greet them with speeches.
 But the local residents had other ideas. The local anti-fascist group, We Are Waltham Forest (WAWF), joined forces with Unite Against Fascism, the local trades council and a number of trade unions to organise a counter-rally in the town centre.
 This attracted around a couple of thousand supporters to listen to speeches from WAWF spokesperson Sophie Bolt, Irfan Akhter from the local council of mosques, Jeanette Arnold, a local Labour member of the Greater London Assembly, Green MEP Jean Lambert, local Labour MP Stella Creasy, UAF general secretary Weyman Bennett and many others.
 Weyman Bennett told the crowd that the local council and some others had not wanted a public protest against the EDL but for everyone to simply ignore them. “But we have seen the result of ignoring them. They grow more confident and stronger and attack local communities.”
 And he cited a list of incidents of EDL thugs running riot and attacking people and mosques after they had marched through an area.
 All the speakers had one message: that Waltham Forest was a place happy to welcome a rich diversity of people from all parts of the world but that the EDL brought hatred and division and was unwelcome in their borough.
 Robinson had called the EDL march as a national rally but only 150 to 200 made it to Blackhorse Road Tube station. There were small groups from all around the country and a couple of Polish fascists, sporting neo-Nazi odal rune tattoos.
 The EDL were heavily outnumbered by the police as they made their way very slowly and noisily along Forest Road, letting off a few firecrackers as they went.
 As they proceeded more and more local residents – black, white and brown – came out of their houses and out of the side streets to tell the EDL they were not wanted. “Whose streets? Our Streets!” they chanted.
 When the EDL reached the junction known as The Bell they found their way barred.
 Anti-fascists had marched from the town centre to block the road there. Many union banners were there from the Fire Brigades Union, RMT, Unison, Unite, the National Union of Teachers, PCS, NUJ and the local trades council.
 Police had kettled the anti-fascists, using a dozen police vans and a commandeered giant Iceland freezer container lorry to make an impassable barrier across the road.
 The furious EDL marchers had to be diverted down side streets. As they got near the magistrates’ court where Robinson was waiting, they found that that area was also occupied by anti-fascists.
 The police had again kettled the organised anti-fascists – who included Matt Wrack, the general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union – but there were dozens of unorganised local people coming and going from all directions and the police found it impossible to seal the area.
 There was a stand-off for about an hour as Robinson could only deliver his speeches to the mocking anti-fascists and was pelted with plastic water bottles and placards.
 Eventually Robison and his platform group had to go into the side street to where his angry supporters had been kettled for some time to address them.
 Later police escorted the disappointed and humiliated EDL members back to Blackhorse Tube station, jeered all the way by the people who lived along the route, while traffic throughout the area was gridlocked by the events.
 They seemed unable to grasp the idea that the majority of the local residents, including the white English people whom they see as their natural constituency, wanted absolutely nothing to do with them and preferred to live in peace with their Muslim neighbours.

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