by New Worker correspondent
LUNAR House in Croydon is the Home Office’s place where immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers are required by law to go to register if they want to be allowed to remain in Britain. For this reason it has often been the target of racists and fascists who want to demonstrate their hatred for all immigrants and to lobby for a ban on immigration.
The South-East Alliance (SEA), a small group of assorted racists and fascists – former members of the English Defence League, the British National Party, the National Front and others – planned to hold a protest rally last Saturday outside Lunar House against immigration.
The date they chose was just one week after a brutal racist attack outside the Goat pub in Croydon by about 30 racists on a Kurdish-Iranian boy, Reker Ahmed, who was left fighting for his life in hospital.
Unite Against Fascism (UAF) responded with a counter rally, starting two hours before the planned SEA protest, drawing around 100 local trade unionists, activists from DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts), Wandsworth Against Cuts and many other groups. The civil service union PCS was there in strength – it represents many of the workers in Lunar House, who are fed up with racist activities and intimidations on their doorstep.
There were trades council banners from Croydon and Bromley and scores of placards saying that immigrants are welcome.
As two o’clock approached police herded these anti-fascists into a specially prepared pen and started preparing another pen about 50 yards away for the SEA supporters.
At two o’clock the SEA racists emerged from the nearby pub where they had been assembling – about 25 of them altogether with an assortment of flags.
At the same time hundreds of young anarchist anti-fascist activists suddenly emerged to try to block their path.
Even greater numbers of police were deployed to try to force a way through the young anti-fascists, which they did slowly and with several arrests. As they were moved away, the young activists were moving in every direction and thwarted all police attempts to push them into the pen with the UAF anti-fascists.
Once the SEA people were in their pen with barriers and a police cordon around them, the young anti-fascists surrounded the whole enclave, many standing on a low wall that separated the SEA pen from the pavement.
All the anti-fascists were chanting slogans very loudly. Then the young anti-fascists deployed two large amplifiers next to the SEA pen and blasted the SEA with music so that it was impossible for the SEA to make their prepared speeches – or for their slogan shouting to be heard.
One of the tracks played by the anti-fascists was Stormzy’s hit track Shut up.
After about an hour, with many complaints from the SEA to the police, the police ordered the amplifiers to be turned off. But the slogan shouting from the young anti-fascists kept the volume high as the fascist speakers tried to make themselves heard.
Eventually the police marched the SEA racists away towards East Croydon Railway Station and there were a few more scuffles with young anti-fascists on the way.
After the fascists had gone the young anti-fascists held an impromptu meeting sitting on the steps outside East Croydon Station.
Paul Sillett, UAF national campaigner, said: “This protest is about rejecting the hate politics and poison from The South East Alliance; people who have a track record of fascism and Islamophobia.
“We say these people have no place in society, and refugees and asylum seekers should be welcome because the fascists are not.”