Large counter-demo against racist EDL in Tower Hamlets
Socialist Party reporters
Several thousand anti-racists turned out on Saturday afternoon to prevent the hooligan English Defence League (EDL) from marching to the East London Mosque in Tower Hamlets.
Young people and trade unionists from across London joined with local people to prevent the EDL from breaking away from their agreed rallying point at Aldgate in the City.
Unite Against Fascism (UAF) and the local community campaign accepted the police and court ruling that the EDL march and rally should go ahead as long as it did not come significantly into the borough.
Only 300-400 EDL supporters attended, which was dwarfed by the counter-demonstration. Since its defeat last year in Walthamstow – where Socialist Party members and Daymer Turkish and Kurdish activists helped protesters break out of a police blockade and stop the EDL from rallying – the EDL has not broken the unity of working people in London by playing its racist and anti-Muslim card.
It hasn’t been able to mobilise significant numbers in the wake of the murder of soldier Lee Rigby.
During Saturday’s march the EDL abused Asian passers-by according to many reports but the massive police presence – some 3,000 officers – continued to protect the EDL.
Frustrated by the counter-protest organisers’ unwillingness to even attempt to stop the EDL – preferring instead to remain hundreds of yards away – many small groups of protesters left the static counter-demo hoping to reassemble to stop the EDL.
However, unfortunately they were scattered and too few in number to succeed on this occasion.
Later, several hundred anarchist-led protesters marched away from the static counter-demo and were eventually kettled by the police. Many of them were arrested.
Many local youth opted to stay on their estates to defend local people. The Socialist Party received a good hearing from these young people. One explained: “We have to get rid of capitalism – look at how they expect us to live in the shadow of their luxury houses!”
At the anti-EDL rally, while some trade union speakers spoke against austerity, Steve Hedley from the RMT union went further and made clear the need for a new workers’ party to stop the development of the EDL and other far-right parties.
Socialist Party leaflets which linked the battle to defeat the EDL with the struggle against austerity were well received as were the Socialist Party placards calling for ‘Jobs and Homes not racism’.
This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 10 September 2013 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.