by New Worker
THOUSANDS of anti-fascists throughout Britain last weekend came out on to the streets to counter attempts by fascist organisation – mainly the English Defence League and the British National Party – to capitalise on the shocking murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich two weeks ago.
And everywhere they succeeded in outnumbering the fascists, preventing them from marching and delivering the message that the vast majority of people in Britain want to live in peace and harmony with their neighbours, whatever their colour, race or creed.
But holding the line in London was not easy because of pre-planned police aggression against the anti-fascists. Police and the Greenwich borough local authority had banned a march by the BNP in Woolwich itself so the BNP rallied in Westminster.
Over a thousand anti-fascists, organised by Unite Against fascism and backed by many trade unions, gathered there to oppose the BNP who numbered only about 120.
The anti-fascist numbers were also swelled by animal rights activists who had come to London for a protest about badger culling and by Sikhs staging a long-term protest opposite Downing Street.
There were scuffles as a few BNP supporters, arriving late, had to run the gauntlet through the UAF ranks to get to their own meeting point.
The anti-fascists linked arms and blocked the proposed route of the BNP march along Whitehall.
Then the TSG – the riot police – tore into the UAF lines, arresting people with great brutality even though there was no violent resistance against them, seizing union banners, and herding arrestees on to two double decker buses they had brought along for that purpose. Legal observers were punched and pushed out of the way so that they could not record police brutality. This was planned and prepared by the police.
One young woman was hospitalised after sustaining a badly broken leg from being trampled by the TSG.
Nevertheless the line held and the BNP did not get to march. The anti-fascists were disciplined and courageous.
Weyman Bennett, UAF joint general secretary, did not cooperate with the police to divide the anti-fascist resistance,
The arrestees were taken to Battersea police station some miles away and were bailed and released in the early hours of the morning – many of them with minor injuries and badly torn clothing.
The UAF gave figures for the turn-out of anti-fascists compared to fascists around the country:
• Manchester 200 UAF to 40 from EDL splinter group NWI;
• Leicester around 200 UAF to 70 EDL;
• Norwich 100 UAF to 10 EDL;
• Sheffield 600 UAF to 58 EDL;
• Hitchen 20 UAF, no show by EDL;
• Leeds 300 UAF to 25 EDL;
• Oxford 40 UAF to 2 EDL;
• Edinburgh 300 UAF to 100 Scottish Defence League;
• Bristol 40 UAF to 10 EDL;
• Southampton 150 UAF to 20 EDL;
• Loughborough EDL didn’t appear;
• Romford EDL stayed in the pub.
It is so important now that the ruling class is desperately trying to divide the working class along ethnic and religious lines to divert the growing opposition to austerity that the fascists, racists and Islamophobics are always opposed and stopped.
And this is happening; Britain is not like Germany in the 1930s and our Muslims will not be scapegoated, isolated and murdered as were the Jews in Germany.
And it is the UAF and its trade union supporters – the organised working class – who are leading the fight to stop this.