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EDL thugs threaten socialists
Our Socialist Party campaigning activity at Newcastle's Monument was going well on Saturday 19 March. One of us was dressed up as a 'banker in need', thanking people for the billions handed over in bonuses. We had loads of people coming up to our stall, signing our petition, buying our paper. Then suddenly we were surrounded by around 60 English Defence League (EDL) thugs. It seemed as if they had a regional mobilisation.
Initially, they tried to put their racist material on our stall, we threw it off. We asked them why they were targeting our stall, we were fighting the cuts and opposing the massive bonuses being given to the bankers. One of them shouted they didn't mind bankers getting bonuses, as long as they were English!
We were joined by another left group, and a passer-by who stood in front of our stall to help us defend it. We decided to continue campaigning and not leave the EDL unopposed to peddle their reactionary filth to the people of Newcastle.
During a period of a couple of hours we were verbally abused. One of our young female members was completely surrounded by them.
I was told that I was a coward. I replied that maybe it wasn't so very brave of him to be shouting at a 50+ year old woman. I was also covered in EDL stickers and told they were going to 'smash socialists'.
A young person passing by carrying a pro-uprising Libyan flag was met by shouts of "scum, scum, scum". While this was going on people were still approaching our stall, telling us they thought the EDL were a disgrace.
One of the police who was present posed smiling with the EDL. When I criticised her for doing this she told me she often had her photograph taken with tourists and young people at the Monument and could see nothing wrong with what she had done!
The EDL at the Monument seemed intent on having a celebration of ignorance. They were anti-trade unionist, anti-student and anti-working class.
For decades the Monument in Newcastle has been where trade unionists, community activists and socialists have had Saturday stalls. The EDL will face a mobilisation of local trade union members and other lefts if they try to bring their bully tactics back again.