Anti-fascists defy demo ban and call supporters to demonstrate against EDL on Saturday

United East End and Unite Against Fascism will be staging a demonstration against the expected English Defence League’s mobilization in Tower Hamlets on Saturday.In a new development UAF  reported on Friday that the Railways workers union (RMT) will close stations if there are attempts by the EDL to rally on station premises.

We could not get a comment from the RMT but Steve Hedley, the RMT’s London regional organiser, told Socialist Worker. “Last time they [the EDL] came to Kings Cross they assaulted workers and members of the public.

“Our drivers will refuse to move trains if they are on them, and will close stations on safety grounds if they turn up.”

A posting on Indymedia suggests that the EDL are planning to rally at various pubs in the Euston area and have organised an email campaign to alert the pubs. We contacted O Neills to check whether they had, as suggested, decided to close tomorrow but they refused to comment and put the phone down.

Millers, a pub near Kings Cross, was also named as a rallying point and the landlord, Pat McMahon, has tweeted: “With regard to our pub being named as a meeting place for members of the EDL, this was not arranged with the pub owners and we had no…knowledge of this, had anyone checked they would’ve discovered that we’re scheduled to be closed tomorrow for essential boiler repairs…”

The EDL initially wanted to meet at the Blind Beggar on Whitechapel Road. The meeting was told that the police had assigned  them the car park of Sainsbury’s on Whitechapel Road as their place to gather. The multi story car park overlooks the East London Mosque.

Sainsburys denies that there has been any approach, from anyone, about using their car park and, a spokesperson assured ELL:  “We wouldn’t give permission.”

UAF national officer, Martin Smith, told a meeting in the borough on Tuesday night, to encourage anti-fascists to come to Tower Hamlets to confront the EDL.

He said: “The EDL will come with more than 30 coaches and they will be there in numbers, between 1000 and 2000 members. We have to get the word out and make sure we have as large a presence as possible. It really is a numbers game.”

The EDL march and all other marches in Tower Hamlets and four neighbouring boroughs, have been blocked by Home Secretary, Theresa May, much to the anger of activists present at Tuesday’s meeting. Three  spoke out against the Home Office ban, arguing it tarred all political presence on the streets with the same brush.

UAF meeting 30 Aug: Koos Couvee

In a statement the  UAF  says: “This is a huge attack on everyone’s civil liberties and prevents people’s right to oppose racism.”

A statement on the EDL website confirms that there will be a ‘static’ demonstration in the borough on Saturday.

The organisations’ statement reads:  “The demonstration has been a long time coming, and so it’s probably worth reminding everyone of the reasons why Tower Hamlets was chosen. The London Borough was famously described as Britain’s Islamic Republic, and perhaps more so than anywhere else in country, it illustrates that the dangers of the unchecked growth of radical Islam: divided communities, extremism, and politicians looking increasingly clueless.”

UAF are determined to show that Tower Hamlets is not a divided community: “We want the biggest possible turnout on the UAF/United East End demo to show that the vast majority of people don’t want the racists and fascists of the EDL in Tower Hamlets or anywhere else.”

Tower Hamlets mayor, Lutfur Rahman had pushed hard for the ban and asked anti-fascist organisations not to come to Tower Hamlets on Saturday but to leave matters to the police.

The counter demonstration will be held from 11am on the junction of Valence Road and Whitechapel Road, near the East London Mosque. It will include speeches as well as live music from Wretch 32, Nitin Sawhney, Asian Dub Foundation, and DJ Nihal from Radio 1.

Reporting by Koos Couvee

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