|Socialist Fight's Gerry Downing on the march|
by New Worker correspondent
UNITED Nations Anti-Racism Day traditionally marks the anniversary of the Sharpeville massacre in South Africa on 21st March 1960. And on Saturday 18th March it was marked by tens of thousands of people in Britain in marches in London, Cardiff and Glasgow — as well as by millions of others around the world.
In London around 30,000 people gathered around the BBC headquarters in Portland Place — even so the BBC failed to register the event as a news item. At 1pm they began to march down Regent Street towards Parliament Square.
The event, organised by Stand Up To Racism (SUTR), attracted hundreds of banners, several bands and contingents from all the major unions, dozens of trades councils, community and faith groups. and progressive political groups.
The crowd was noisy, colourful and good humoured, but with a very serious message about rising levels of racism in Europe and in the United States. In particular, many placards were directed against President Donald Trump for encouraging racism and sexism. and against those who used Brexit as an excuse to go on a racist rampage.
There were also many messages directed at the Government for its refusal to allow refugees from the wars in the Middle East and Africa into Britain, especially because British Imperialist manipulation is behind many of those wars.
As the marchers passed Piccadilly Circus they noticed the usual gang of neo-Nazi counter-protesters from Britain First — but not in their usual place draped around the plinth of the Eros statue.
Before the march a large group of young anarchists from Antifa had driven them away from that spot and by the time the main march arrived the remaining 11 ‘Aryan warriors’ were looking battered and dishevelled, tucked away in a corner behind a huge protective police barrier. Their leader, Paul Golding, was looking particularly battered and in a foul temper.
In Parliament Square one of the main speakers was Moazzam Begg, the former Guantanamo Bay prisoner who was held captive by the United States authorities for 11 years without charge or trial. He told the crowd: “The rise of the far-right and the Nazis and fascists has seen a new wave with the election of Donald Trump, who said when he came to power: ‘I’m going to load up Guantanamo with some bad dudes.’ So my response is: ‘When are you going, dude?’”
On the same day hundreds of people marched through Cardiff to protest against racism. Stand Up To Racism organised the march, which ended with speeches by the Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood and Swansea teacher Juhel Miah, who was denied entry into the United States.
A Stand Up To Racism Wales spokesperson said: “We see the great march today as just the first step in the creation of a mass movement against racism in Wales. But what we really want is an organisation, in every town and city, that will react quickly to knock down any attempt to scapegoat refugees as ‘foreigners’, people from diverse backgrounds, minority religions or simply people with a different coloured skin.
“We are going to create a movement that celebrates our diversity. We will have music, art and drama. We will hound any politician who plays the racist card. We will not let politicians or the mainstream media, apparently nowadays the same thing, return us to the 1930s.”
And in Glasgow 3,000 protesters gathered to take part in a massive demonstration in the centre of the city to Holland Street and George Square, to stand up against the growing culture of racism.Stand up to Racism Scotland said: “In a situation where migrants, Muslim women and anyone considered to be ‘foreign’ are being attacked on a daily basis — and refugees are being abandoned by Britain and Europe to destitution, drowning and exploitation — there has never been a more important time in recent history to stand up to racism.”