Over 500 people have signed a petition by the anti-racist coalition Hackney Unites calling for the banning of an anti-Semitic protest planned for 22 March.
Joshua Bonehill, age 22 from Yeovil, Somerset, was released on bail after being arrested last Friday for planning the protest “against Jewification and anti-white oppression” in Bonehill’s words. Police banned Bonehill from entering London or “the area contained within the M25 except to answer police bail” until after the anti-Semitic demonstration.
Hackney police said that he was arrested by officers “investigating allegations of inciting racial hatred”. The investigation is on-going.
Hackney Unites have expressed “cautious optimism” following Bonehill’s arrest. However they say the community must “remain vigilant” as the protest planned to take place on Clapham Common is likely to be postponed rather than cancelled.
The coalition says it will “design any response [to the demonstration] so as to actively promote peace and unity”. Suggestions on how to do this have included decorating Stamford Hill with rainbow ribbons and holding a festival of traditional dance featuring Jewish and African dance troupes.
One of the online petitioners commented: “Having lived in Stamford Hill my entire life I have embraced the diversity and multiculturalism it has to offer…This is more of an attempt to incite hatred based on ethnic group than a protest.”
Labour MP Luciana Berger tweeted that “This ‘rally’ has no place in Britain”. A man was jailed in October for sending a “racially motivated”, offensive tweet to Berger’s own account.
This “rally” has no place in Britain http://t.co/v41UiKd9J7
— Luciana Berger (@lucianaberger) February 1, 2015
Rabbi Pinter of Stamford Hill said: “Bonehill might achieve what Hackney Council couldn’t. Hackney Council has not been able to bring the community together. We can have our differences but we should be able to discuss and come to an agreement. I’m now confident that through the negative you got a positive.”
Another local Jewish leader, Rabbi Gluck said: “I am very heartened and encouraged by very many of the comments that I read…Many local people have also stopped me in the street to express their shock and their solidarity with the Jewish community.”