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Nuneaton: community must organise against racism
Recently in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, there has been a flurry of activity by the racist and hooligan English Defence League (EDL).
Tom Sidwell, secretary Nuneaton Anti-Fascist Action and Nuneaton Socialist Party
On 12 September the Royal Fusiliers army regiment were granted freedom of Nuneaton and Bedworth borough. There were rumours of a local EDL presence on the day to cheer home the troops as the pre-ceremony parade marched through the town centre. Some 40-50 EDL supporters from across the Midlands turned out.
Later that day at a local pub near the heart of the Asian community, there was a tense standoff between Asian residents and EDL sympathisers. The police arrested an EDL member who threw a bottle.
After this incident, local socialists, trade unionists and anti-fascists formed Nuneaton Anti Fascist Action (NAFA). We organised a public meeting to prepare for the EDL's impending return on Sunday 26 September for a similar parade of the Gurkha regiment.
The meeting was well attended by representatives of many parties, religions and trade unions, despite internet threats by the EDL to disrupt any meetings we held.
We organised a rally in the Asian community to show solidarity and to show that the EDL's brand of ignorant hatred would not be tolerated in our town. Approximately 30 people turned up for the rally including local young people. We forged links to discuss further action to keep the EDL and other far right groups at bay in the future.
While we were engaging the community, the town centre was an extremely unpleasant place to be. There were around 150-200 EDL supporters with a huge police presence and small pockets of EDL walking around abusing anyone Asian they saw. There were seven arrests on the day (all EDL) for public order offences, two of which featured offensive weapons.
NAFA will continue to meet and organise against far right activity in our usually peaceful town.