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Posted on 4 June 2013 at 10:10 GMT

A small group of BNP supporters gathered heavily out-numbered by anti-BNP protestors in London's Whitehall , 1 June 2013, photo by Paul Mattsson

A small group of BNP supporters gathered heavily out-numbered by anti-BNP protestors in London's Whitehall , 1 June 2013, photo by Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Stopping the BNP in London

Lewisham

Saturday 1 June marked a defeat for the British National Party (BNP).

Its leader Nick Griffin started the week hoping that he could rebuild support for the BNP's racist lies on the back of the callous murder of soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich.

A small group of BNP supporters gathered heavily out-numbered by anti-BNP protestors

  (Click to enlarge)

But swayed by the strong community support for unity rallies in both Woolwich and Lewisham (the proposed start and end points for the BNP march), the BNP was instructed by the police to abandon its planned march to the Lewisham Islamic Centre (LIC).

On the day he was only able to gather together a small and heavily outnumbered group of BNP supporters in central London.

While the LIC and local National Union of Teachers branch had felt able to call off the planned opposition rally in the light of the ban on the BNP's march, three of us from Lewisham Trades Council kept our promise to provide protective stewarding outside the mosque, just in case there was any attempted provocation from either the BNP or English Defence League.

A small group of BNP supporters gathered heavily out-numbered by anti-BNP protestors in London's Whitehall , 1 June 2013,, photo by Paul Mattsson

A small group of BNP supporters gathered heavily out-numbered by anti-BNP protestors in London's Whitehall , 1 June 2013,, photo by Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Some of the protesters who would have rallied in Lewisham, travelled to the Westminster counter-protests instead.

In the end, outside LIC there was no sign of any trouble all day. There was a united and celebratory mood as we stood with members of the LIC management committee in the sunshine to chat and discuss with the many other local residents and trade unionists who passed by during the day. We were well rewarded with food and coffee too!

Nick Griffin has been making a great play of the fact that the LIC stands next to a Wing-Chun and yoga school, which, according to his twisted logic, provides clear evidence of a sinister 'training centre'.

In reality, this is a longstanding martial arts centre run by a respected Wing Chun instructor, offering classes across the whole community.

Nick Griffin, regrettably, doesn't let such a mundane reality get in the way of his propaganda. However, in London he found that there were many who were prepared to stand in his way.

Martin Powell-Davies
Anti-BNP demonstration in central London, 1.6.13, photo by S Kimmerle

Anti-BNP demonstration in central London, 1.6.13, photo by S Kimmerle

Central London

On 1 June up to 1,000 protesters took part in a protest in central London against the far-right racist BNP which successfully prevented them from marching their short walk from the Houses of Parliament to the Cenotaph.

Turkish and Kurdish Community Centre Day-Mer Youth on protest against the BNP, 1 June 2013, photo by Paul Mattsson

Turkish and Kurdish Community Centre Day-Mer Youth on protest against the BNP, 1 June 2013, photo by Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Not long after the anti-BNP protest had begun to assemble, 2-300 of the anti-racist protesters marched down to parliament to confront the BNP, preventing its 100 supporters from leaving.

This was soon followed by a bigger section of the anti-BNP protest marching down to Westminster and eventually blocking one of the exits from Parliament Square.

The anti-BNP protesters were then joined by several hundred anti-badger cull protesters.

The protest attracted many people angry that the BNP and the EDL were attempting to gain support from the brutal killing of Lee Rigby by dividing communities.

Anti-BNP demonstration in central London, 1.6.13, photo S Kimmerle

Anti-BNP demonstration in central London, 1.6.13, photo S Kimmerle

Protesters were eagerly taking copies of the Socialist Party leaflet titled "Unite against racism, terrorism and war".

The leaflet recognised the important role that trade unions can play in building unity against racism and austerity but also the importance of building a political alternative to the BNP, EDL and the three main political parties.

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is an important part of this process.

Several people said that they were interested in joining the Socialist Party

Chris Newby
Anti-BNP demonstration in central London, 1.6.13, photo by S Kimmerle

Anti-BNP demonstration in central London, 1.6.13, photo by S Kimmerle

Rhys Conway, who was on the central London protest, said:

"The demonstrators defied the heavy handed police tactics: 58 arrests (made at random as no missiles or punches were thrown by the protesters), one ambulance had to be called for an injury caused by police and a man was dragged behind police lines and beaten.

"Linking arms and refusing to be pushed back, we blocked the street and after six hours attempting to get us to move 100 metres down the street, the police were finally forced to disperse the BNP in the opposite direction."


This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 4 June 2013 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

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