Category Archives: Events
Another English Defence League march and another low turn out – this Saturday (4th February) it was Leicester’s turn to host flag-waving mob. Last time the EDL were in Leicester in October 2010 they mustered 1,500 and broke through police lines to ran amok attacking Asians. Tensions were therefore running high before the event.
This time round Leicestershire police were taking no chances, spending £850,000 with over two thousand cops in public order gear on the streets and the blanket use of the Public Order Act to force the opposing sides apart. Leicester’s cops produced a leaflet expalining that they had they had the power to take any person under the age of eighteen to a ‘safe place’ during the demonstrations.
The UAF pulled an interesting bait and switch on the day – having previously promised to abide by police instructions and confine themselves to a symbolic march announced on Friday that all opposed to the EDL should get to Leicester’s clock tower for a static demo. The clock tower had the potential to be a great vantage point to actively oppose the EDL. By Saturday morning however the UAF were urging people back onto the police approved march route. Cunning or contradictory? – Only you, the viewer, can decide. In the event the UAF march was tiny as active anti-fascists and local youth spent the energy attempting to get to the route of the EDL march from side streets
The day started with hundreds of anti-fascists and locals ignoring any Section 14 warnings and gathering at the Clocktower. According to one eyewtness from the Anti-Fascist Network “They were not veteran protesters but people who just did not want EDL in Leicester’s city centre” Police horses were used to kettle and push the crowd aside. According to a legal observer from the Network for Police Monitoring NETPOL, the costly police operation was directed at “controlling community opposition to the EDL” while facilitating the fascists unwelcome visit to the city.
An estimated 700 EDL marched past the shut up shops on Belgrave Gate. The official UAF march took a circular route back to Welford Place but some UAFers, assorted anti-fascist and local youths who had evaded the police also made repeated attempts to oppose the EDL along the way. They lined the latter stages of the EDL march and occupied the Clocktower area again.
NETPOL gave this summary of the 4th February in Leicester. “The EDL were enabled to move fairly freely, to break away from the main body of the march and form up in groups. They had few restrictions in reality whereas those who opposed them, especially young Asian men, faced a set of restrictions. They were picked on by police whenever they attempt to move in even relatively small numbers. One group of young locals were chased into a park and had dogs set on them. An ambulance was called. There difference between the policing of the EDL and the community response was marked throughout the day and everywhere in the city.”
After the marches were over locals gathered up in the city centre. It was clear to those looking on that anyone who was black or Asian put into a kettle. They were led with horses out of town. They were moved towards the Highfields area of Leicester and were, as one copper put it,being taken home. There have been reports of clashes – but no arrests were made.
In one interesting development the EDL were seen burning the flag of Argentina (that hotbed of jihadism)– hoping to ctach a ride on another patriotic wave as tensions over territory and oil deposits in the South Atlantic cause another hoo-ha about the sovereignity of the Falkland islands.
What’s next for our flag-waving chums? Rumour has it that they might be heading to Bristol – watch this space…
Meanwhile tiny EDL splinter group the Infidels held their own breakaway demo in Rochdale on the same day. Standing in the snow in an empty carpark surrounded by cops without any audience, this event was notable only for the re-appearance of openly Nazi groups such as the British People’s Party.
(taken from Schnews)
The sorry tale of the EDL is perhaps wending it’s way to an anti-climax. Yesterday saw a piss-poor turn out in Barking end up in an ignominious defeat in Whitechapel.
The league decided to make a stand in Barking – long an area of widespread BNP support. Admittedley this was only intended to be a regional demo not one of their national ‘big ones’ but even so the turn-out was poor.
SchNEWS spoke to a local anti-fascist “It really was a poor turn-out about 80 of them mostly old guys in their fifties or young kids – no casuals to be seen”. The EDL were cordoned off by police outside Barking Town Hall and exchanged points of view with a small UAF contingent. Later the right-wingers were bombarded with pots of yoghurt from above.
After that not particularly inspiring effort a few leaguers decided to up the ante. Around twenty of them got off the tube at Bethnal Green and pub-crawled their way up to the East London mosque. Attentive SchNEWS readers will know that this was the target of the EDL Tower Hamlets demo back in September.
According to our anti-fascist witness “They were there briefly, shouting ‘Allah is a paedo’, then almost straight away one of them got knocked out. Within ten minutes there were three or four hundred locals there ready to confront them. There were also TSG [riot police] all over the shop. The EDL were then all arrested for their own safety” Nice one guys!
A meeting of the Bristol EDL didn’t get off to a flying start (or any start at all for that matter) as they found 30 militant antifascists waiting for them in the Drawbridge pub on St. Augustine’s Parade last night. Around 10 visibly nervous EDL members turned up and didn’t stay long when they realised they didn’t have many friends in the pub. One was overheard on the phone saying “There’s about 30 of them. They’re big. Don’t come here.” One of the Bristol EDL’s players, Chris Pugh arrived fashionably late (like, an hour and a half late!) and stood on his own by the bar looking sheepish and more than a little bit down in the mouth as anti EDL leaflets were distributed around the pub. 2 hours after the supposed start time of the meeting, with the EDL crowd dispersed, we were happy to agree the job was done.The successful occupation of their meeting place by antifascists prevented the local right wing bigots from meeting up as intended and will not have done much for the confidence and self esteem of an organisation already floundering with infighting and lack of direction. It was clear to all involved that for all their big talk and tough guy image, when faced with serious opposition, the EDL, like most fascist groups, back down quicker than you can say “Where have all the fascists gone?!”
Bristol EDL or any other fascist scum can expect more of the same. Zero tolerance of fascism in our city.
When confronted by a swaggering neo-Nazi at Welling train station in March 2009, Sean Cregan did what any good antifascist would, he put the Nazi on his arse! While twice Sean’s size, one punch was enough for the scumbag fascist, who dropped to the ground as if pole-axed. His neo-Nazi companion quickly fled down the station platform, with Sean in hot pursuit.
The two scumbags had been on their way to a so-called “Blood and Honour” gig, which are regularly held at the nearby Duchess of Edinburgh pub (with the active participation of the fascist landlord with whom the two were to stay). When questioned by police later, the first fascist gave his name as Patrick O’Donovan (this may be a false name since he is German and came over specifically for the gig, which are illegal in Germany). His brave companion gave his name as Michael Heihl.
There had been several unrelated incidents at Welling Station that evening, and the police arrived quickly, arresting several antifascists who were also at the station (or in the vicinity). Some months later, dawn raids took place around the country, with large numbers of cops smashing in doors and arresting other antifascists. Draconian bail conditions were imposed. In total, 23 people were now under arrest in relation to the punching of ‘O’Donovan’.
Since there was no available ‘complainant’ in the case, the cops – the British Transport Police led by Detective Inspector Sam Blackburn – were unable to charge Sean, or any of the other antifascists, with assault. Instead they were charged with ‘Conspiracy to Commit Violent Disorder’. In legal terms, ‘Violent Disorder’ occurs when a person’s behaviour is deemed to be of such a nature that it would cause alarm or distress to someone witnessing it, though in this case nobody had complained and it was ruled that there was not sufficient evidence to additionally charge any of the antifascists with ‘Violent Disorder’ itself.
Charges were dropped against one of the antifascists, a young woman, in the early stages, but because of the sheer number of defendants the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) argued that, for logistical reasons, it was necessary to split the defendants between two trials. Of course this also put the Prosecution at a considerable advantage, particularly as they would be prosecuted by the same individual – Mark Trafford. Both trials would be held at Blackfriars Crown Court before Judge H.O.Blacksell.
The CPS chose to first prosecute not so much those with the most evidence against them, since they have presented no evidence of a conspiracy throughout, but those whom they judged would be most easily convicted. Many of the defendants had been convicted of political activities in the past, and because of these ‘prior convictions’ could not present character evidence in their defence for example. The CPS knew that they could rely on the prejudice and ignorance of the jury (one of whom sported a shirt emblazoned with a large St George’s cross) for some convictions, and sure enough seven antifascists were convicted as charged, with six of them being sent immediately to jail.
As our comrades were sent to prison, the architects of the fit-up were busy congratulating each other. Blacksell, the judge who presided over the charade, said he would be recommending Detective Inspector Blackburn for a commendation – For what, making travel safer for Nazis?! Perhaps Blackburn will get the ‘Iron Cross’! This whole case revolves around one neo-Nazi, who was not a complainant in the case, being put on his arse. For that 23 people were arrested, hundreds of cops were involved in dawn raids, and two show trials were held costing Millions, what a great service to the ‘public’! But of course, this case is about far more than one pathetic fascist.
Immediately before the second trial, charges were dropped against two more of those previously accused of being involved in the ‘conspiracy’, leaving nine more to face trial. The trial began on Monday 12th September, and once again the Prosecution presented absolutely no evidence of a ‘conspiracy’. The jury seemed nonplussed as to why they were there. Once again, the trial dragged on for more than three weeks.
One of the things that came out in the second trial was that a racist Immigration Officer, who acted as a prosecution witness, and who in his police statement described Ravi Gill as having a “typical big Asian head” and “speaking Indian”, lied through his teeth in the first trial. He could not have witnessed the incident as he claimed because when it happened he was not actually there, but outside buying his ticket!
As his attempts to fit up the second group of antifascists began to unravel, Trafford became quite desperate, and at times appeared close to tears. He had pursued the case with personal malice and with a messianic gleam in his eye throughout, and his arrogance led to some verbal fencing with defendants of twice his intelligence which simply left him looking foolish. Bereft of evidence, he simply relied on being able to mislead and prejudice the jury as he had done in the first trial. To this end, Trafford tried to present the neo-Nazis of ‘Blood & Honour’ and the Anarchists and antifascists in the dock as two sides of the same coin, as if the Nazis and partisans of World War Two had some sort of moral equivalence. This morally repugnant position was rounded on by the Defence in the closing speeches with Trafford pilloried to an unusual extent. Putting the incident firmly in its political and historical context, one of the Defence barristers even went so far as to say that the jury should not only be acquitting the defendants, but thanking them for being prepared to confront organised fascism.
It should be clear that this prosecution was brought to try and smash antifascist resistance (something Trafford has privately made explicitly clear) and to intimidate antifascists from engaging in any form of antifascist activity. The case however, and the way that the ‘conspiracy’ law has been used in it, has huge implications for activists in general, it is an attempt to outlaw any form of protest. Leeds ABC regard it as highly regrettable that the case did not have the massive publicity it warranted from the very beginning.
The jury retired to consider the verdict at 3.00pm today – They were back again less than an hour later to acquit all nine antifascists, treating the prosecution case with the contempt it deserves. The courtroom erupted into cheers and cries of jubilation, with only the judge and prosecutor left looking sour-faced. Tonight as the acquitted and supporters retired to the pub there was every reason to celebrate. Tomorrow is the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street. We hope that Indymedia readers will join us in raising a glass – to our comrades who triumphed over this judicial fit-up, to the antifascists down the ages who have been prepared to go out onto the streets to confront fascism, and to our six comrades who were fitted-up earlier this year and who deserve our fullest possible support.
The six antifascists imprisoned in the first trial were originally held in Wormwood Scrubs prison in London, but five have now been moved to other jails in southern and central England. Please send them letters of support at the addresses given below. We expect Thomas Blak to be moved this week and his new address will be published on the Leeds ABC website when that happens. Thomas, who is Danish and has lived and worked in England for 15 years, is also under threat of deportation.
The prisoners may each receive postage stamps and Postal Orders (made payable to ‘The Governor’ and with the prisoner’s name and prison number written on the back). For advice on writing to prisoners please see the Leeds ABC website.
A solidarity fund has been set up to support the prisoners in jail and upon release. All donations, big and small, are very welcome. The fund is administered by Leeds Anarchist Black Cross, a long-standing and reputable prisoner support organisation, and the fund will ONLY be used to support the prisoners directly. If you would like to contribute to the fund please send a cheque (made payable to ‘The Cable Street Society’) to Leeds ABC, 145-149 Cardigan Road, Leeds, LS6 1LJ. Details for bank transfers are:
The Cable Street Society
Sort Code 070093
Account number 33333334
We would like to thank the groups and individuals who have already contributed to the solidarity fund, including Antifa England, Brighton & Hove TUC Unemployed Workers Centre, Bristol ABC, Kate Sharpley Library , and Rebel Soul (Shambala Festival).
The Anarchist print co-op Sabcat have also produced two benefit T-shirts in support of the prisoners. They are printed on organic cotton, fair wear, carbon neutral, Earth Positive T-shirts and cost £14.95 including UK postage. Sabcat are donating their labour for free, so apart from the cost of the unprinted garment itself and the postage, all money raised goes to the antifascist prisoners support fund. To order a T-shirt check out the Sabcat website at http://www.sabcat.com. They will also be available to buy at this year’s London Anarchist Bookfair.
Leeds ABC have produced a solidarity poster (see above) in several sizes, which is being displayed in laminated form in numerous community centres, social centres, pubs, cafes, bookshops, etc. Please contact us with regard to displaying one. You can also download the graphic to display on your website, Facebook page, etc.
Last, but by no means least, a number of revolutionary solidarity actions have been claimed in the names of the prisoners, and we both appreciate and applaud these acts. We should remember that the very best act of solidarity we can offer is to continue to fight against fascism and not to be intimidated or cowed by these latest attempts to stop us resisting.
Solidarity to the antifascist prisoners.
HMP Wormwood Scrubs
PO Box 757
Du Cane Rd
Thomas is Danish and would appreciate European/International stamps to keep in touch with his family and with comrades abroad.
Sean can receive books (they must be new or in very good condition).
Phil De Souza
Ravi can receive posters, so if you hold a support event consider sending him one in.
Stocken Hall Road
Despite Home Secretary Theresa May announcing a ban on all marches in Tower Hamlets, Newham, Waltham Forest, Islington and Hackney for 30 days – the far-right English Defence League (EDL) will still be attempting to stage their biggest demonstration yet, in the centre of our capital. As anti-fascists, anti-racists, socialists and anarchists we should ensure we are there to greet them on 3rd September.
The EDL have not been banned from congregating in Tower Hamlets, and they are expected to announce where exactly they plan to do this on Wednesday (31st). Theoretically they will be confined to a heavily policed static demonstration, however most of their rank’n’file are unlikely to be satisfied with this – statements such as “we’ll march wherever we fucking want” and (unfortunately) “whose streets?” are now commonplace on EDL forums.
EDLers tend to meet up in pubs before demos from about 11am, marching/stumbling to the demo start points at 1pm to be marched around their city du jour in a mobile kettle before being deposited back in the drinking houses to toast their massive success. Given the media attention on the EDL, the small number of pubs still willing to host them and their well documented inability to drink a pint of Stella without shouting “Allah is a paedo!” the hierarchy may well avoid the official ‘muster pub’ strategy. Though the majority of their casual support wouldn’t turn out if the prospect of a piss-up wasn’t on the cards.
Once the official demonstration point is announced police will most likely build a massive pen and devise a strategy to funnel the fash into it. What happens on the day though will depend on police tactics as well as EDL and opposition numbers. If they get a large turnout or if the police decide to be hands-off they will march regardless of the ban, in which case it is up to us to stop them. Alternatively the EDL may be (physically) fragmented – either by choice or by baton. In this scenario smaller groups of boneheads may try to make their way into Tower Hamlets where locals and antifascists should be ready to run them out of town.
The only thing that is certain is that the greater the numbers on the streets to oppose them, the higher the chances of inflicting one last humiliating defeat on Tommy’s Boys.
Having brought the ban about, Unite Against Fascism (UAF) have spent the last few days bitching that it shouldn’t apply to them. They’ve now moved their assembly point from Weavers Field to the corner of Vallance Road and Whitechapel Road, at 11am. This is the same area autonomous groups had been calling for people to gather, while the increased numbers are welcome, they will likely come with a police pen of their own as well as UAF stewards attempting to control crowds.
Although it’s always preferable to avoid being kettled, if we are contained in the very area the EDL want to be it will still be a victory – of sorts. However our ability to stay mobile without being picked off is our greatest strength. An overwhelming anti-fascist presence on this one might just be enough to permanently burst the EDL’s bubble, leaving the pathetic remnants of street-fighting British nationalism squabbling amongst themselves and beating each other up over who’s best to lead the master race.
11am Saturday 3rd September
Tower Hamlets, East London
Two more UK anti-fascists have been given prison sentences. Thomas Blak and Austen Jackson were held on remand since their dodgy conviction in June, and appeared in Blackfriars court on Monday August 8th for sentencing.
Austen and Thomas were two of seven anti-fascists convicted on the basis of minimal evidence in relation to an altercation which took place between some anti-fascists and some neo-nazis near to a gig organised by the avowedly white supremacist promoters Blood and Honour. Despite the fact that there was no evidence that they had been involved in violence they were effectively fitted up and prosecuted for “conspiring” to cause violence on the basis that they were in the area to oppose the gig.
Ignoring the dubious nature of this conviction the judge continued his approach of handing down lenthgy prison sentences, sending down Thomas for 18 months and Austen for 15 months. This follows the 21 month sentences he already handed down to four anti-fascists. One further anti-fascist involved in this case is still on bail awaiting sentence.
All seven convicted are being persecuted because they were willing to stand in opposition to racism and fascism, and they fully deserve the support of anyone who considers themselves anti-racist or anti-fascist.
If you have not yet written to the prisoners please take this opportunity to do so. Messages from the outside let them know that there are many who stand in solidarity with them, and contact with people helps break down the monotony and isolation of prison life. For up to date addresses and more details on writing to the prisoners see: http://antifascistprisonersupportuk.wordpress.com/addresses/
Please also consider donating to their support campaign. The prisoners need money in their prison accounts in order to be able to buy what minimal “luxuries” they are permitted (cigarettes, vaguely edible food, stamps, reading material, etc.). Also many of them are being held far from family and friends, and donations can help pay for travel so they can receive personal visits. You can donate money through the Paypal link on the support group site: http://antifascistprisonersupportuk.wordpress.com/
Due to ongoing legal proceedings this case cannot be discussed in any more detail at this time. Please respect this and do not press for more information on this sensitive matter, or engage in online speculation.
EDL are planning to march in Portsmouth on 16th of July. Local Anti-fascists are organising counter actions. There are no details yet , but there will be organised response so if you can , please make plans to come to Portsmouth on the day.
Watch this space, more info soon.
Before the march, the MfE claimed 2 things that they subsequently forgot on the day: they said that it was to be a St. George march and not ‘political’ but ended up chanting ‘no surrender to the Taliban’? Not being local to Brighton we can safely assume that there are very few Taliban knocking around Kemp Town. They also said that this was nothing to do with the English Defence League but then, on the way back to the train station, they unfurled EDL flags. Oops! There is a photo of someone holding an Essex Infidels flag which has been seen on EDL demos before. On their website they had asked people not to display any EDL insignia. The MfE demo had known EDL members on it and the majority were not local. There were people from Essex, Eastbourne and Portsmouth thus proving that Brighton EDL is very weak indeed and that signing up to a Facebook page does not translate into shoe leather on the cobbles. Any half pissed moron can do that. Local numbers have had to be supplemented from other ‘divisions’ from afar. The cops had expected more and had drafted in bobbies from around the south east. They held a thin blue line between the MfE and the counter-protestors who hadn’t been kettled in. The counter-protest gathered at the train station and was contained by plod whilst other anarchists and anti-fascists kept well out of the cordon.
The march was all-white and obese, fat bellies wobbling in the sunshine and many ‘had strong drink taken.’ They sang the usual garbage about ‘English Til I Die’ (hurry up, please!), ‘You’re not English anymore’ and ‘No surrender to the Taliban’ to the general bemusement of Brightonians. They will of course see this as a great victory having ‘taken liberties’ in Brighton but, as with the EDL, they achieve nothing apart from annoying people. They had to ask permission to march and were heavily surrounded by plod, they were then marched to their meeting point and marched back again. All the publicity they have received is negative and they come across as unwanted irritants and outsiders on an otherwise pleasant bank holiday weekend. There have been other Saint George’s day marches in Brighton that featured war veterans. With the MfE hijacking the demo, the veterans wisely stayed away. The MfE were also supposed to end up in the King and Queen boozer but they had closed for the duration.
The March for England were very wary of being seen as EDL and had stated that the EDL, BNP etc were barred. But they showed anyway. There have been some interesting schisms in these nationalist grupuscules of late in case you don’t know. At the EDL’s Blackburn demo recently leader Steven Caxley-Trousers outed one of his online critics which led to a rather amusing brawl between the varying factions and stewards. This caused a rift in the north and 2 splinter groups – the North West and North East Infidels – were created. Also, the English Nationalist Alliance has been proscribed by the EDL after ENA head cheese Billy ‘Bunter’ Baker appeared on TV claiming to speak for the EDL. This annoyed Caxley-Trousers and ‘Cocaine’ Kev Carol who booted big Billy out. The March for England, although having a membership overlap with the BNP, EDL, ENA etc, try to distance themselves from such behaviour and the leadership remain relatively anonymous. However, the leaders of these various grupuscules have realised that there be money to make here. On their little websites, alongside some appalling ‘poetry,’ there is always a section entitled ‘Merchandise’ from which they sell a variety of nationalist tat. Caxley-Trousers clearly made a mint out of flogging his funny little burkahs and hoodies and there have been questions asked over where the proceeds have gone. There were also accusations of financial mismanagement from various quarters. Richard Price was a former EDL ‘leader’ who was arrested last year. Caxley and Cocaine Kev started raising money for this ‘political prisoner’ until it was revealed that Pricey had in fact been nicked for downloading child pornography – as well as cocaine and crack possession. Some of the disenfranchised EDL members are now asking what happened to the defence fund. There is a website set up by former EDL leader Paul Ray, a bizarre racist Christian who is bitter over being toed out of the EDL. His blog is full of ravings ‘exposing’ Cocaine Kev and Caxley Trousers over their dodgy doings – some of which is pretty believable. Caxley-Trousers is also facing charges of fraud which can’t help his case. Like with Nick Griffclops of the BNP the money may be the undoing of the EDL leadership: they just can’t keep their hands off the cash can they?
So although the far right are getting increasingly cocky with their flash demos there are too many schisms amongst them to form any coherent political block. And that is not including the usual football rivalries. The money and ego-trips are too tempting and the ‘leaders’ love showing off in the pub to their mates. These ‘English’ defenders and marchers also represent a minority of what many of us see as Englishness, i.e., tolerance, plurality and peace, cause local bother and have achieved very little politically beyond a good day out for ageing hooligans trying to relive their former ‘glory.’