Opposing the EDL: Leeds 1st June 2013

The occurence at the cenotaph in Leeds on the first of June and its implications for resisting the EDL.

Submitted by Glimmer on June 4, 2013

On first of June we gathered to protest against the EDL in Leeds. Looks like the UAF wanted a wreath laying ceremony so we all marched up to the cenotaph. This was agreed with the authorities, what was also agreed was that we would vacate and allow the EDL to lay their wreath, which is a bit of a cheek since many of the dead of remembered there were fighting fascism and the EDL is laced with hard line fascists. It was proposed that we stay at the cenotaph which most people around 80 or so did (direct democracy) which made it impossible for the cops to allow the small numbers of EDL to stay after their wreath had been laid. Correct tactic, bravo.
The strategy employed by the UAF to liaise with Labour Councillors and the Police to do deals that means that anti racist demo’s are held away from the EDL so as not to challenge them do nothing confront fascism and merely plays into the hands of authority by helping them control and neutralise the struggle. In Bradford August 2011 it was a strategy that led potentially to the Asian youth been abandoned to oppose the EDL alone in Cheapside whilst the UAF held a rally half a mile away, fortunately hundreds of anti racists ignored the UAF and who joined the youth. The UAF strategy of avoidance has also led to many people been demoralised by such actions.
The movement must be independent of the authorities and must decide itself on a case by case basis when and when not to confront the EDL based on logistics. Every strategy must be employed as and when needed especially propaganda in the wider community that tackles the issues of Islamophobia, immigration and war, the issues which sustain the fascists.



10 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Glimmer on June 12, 2013

Sheffield: the right and the wrong way to fight fascism

KD Tait looks at how the recent antifascist mobilisations in Sheffield reveal the kind of antifascism we need – and the kind we don’t.

Last weekend, up to 1500 antifascists mobilised against the English Defence League (EDL) who were in Sheffield to lay a wreath at the war memorial to ‘honour’ Lee Rigby, the soldier killed in Woolwich.

The previous week smaller numbers scored an important victory – occupying the memorial and physically preventing the police from escorting the fascists through.

Instead of capitalising on this success and repeating the protest with bigger numbers and wider support, Unite Against Fascism (UAF) – always wary of movements which threaten to escape the narrow limits of what it considers acceptable to its sponsors in the trade union leaderships and other worthies – conceded the fascists the right to march through the town.

The result was that around 500 EDL members marched and laid their wreath opposed only by the heckling of 150 or so antifascists in the square itself.

The council offered UAF the funds and equipment to hold a mini festival celebrating multi-culturalism. UAF willingly accepted this – on the pretext that the police had the city locked down and entry to the square was impossible. This sounds sensible – but only if you think that the police, and the council, are some kind of neutral force entitled to allow fascists to march on our streets.

The official UAF event was pooly attended – dwarfed by the numbers massed on the antifascist rally outside Barkers’ Pool. The size of this protest was a welcome increase on the turnout from the previous week.

On the day antifascists voted with their feet – choosing political protest against the fascists over UAF’s liberal diversion. This shows that the anti-racist movement can mobilise itself when tactics are used which show that the fascists can be stopped.

When the EDL were escorted out of Barkers’ Pool by police after just a few minutes, antifascists occupied the square before several hundred marched onwards to pursue the EDL.

It was this demonstration, overwhelmingly made up of Black and Asian youth which spent the next four hours blockading the fascists in pubs up and down West Street. Eventually the police were forced to escort the EDL to the train station, with antifascists shadowing them the entire way.

So, thanks to these demonstrators the EDL’s triumph was short lived and turned to humiliation. They were heavily outnumbered and only able to “march” and congregate in pubs under the protection of hundreds of police officers. They were opposed at every turn and were denied the “freedom of the streets” they need to boost their morale and massively increase their numbers.

But to suggest, as some reports do, that this is the whole story – and so all antifascists should chalk up another total ‘victory’ themselves – is both dishonest and unhelpful.

There is no doubt that the fascists had an uncomfortable day. UAF’s decision not to call a counter-protest at the cenotaph itself allowed the fascists their media stunt and prevented a second decisive victory for the anti-fascists.

Taken from Workers Power