Genetically Modified | 11.10.2010 13:00
In response to the Nottingham IndyMedia report below, you were wrong. Sadly most of us believed after the crushing defeat for the EDL in Bradford they would dissipate, but we've thought that several times before and they are just not going anywhere, anytime soon. I have included a report i wrote for a local independent news source below, so feel free to read that for details of what happened, from a Manchester perspective.
From a critical action perspective there are important lessons to be learnt and a sad tale to be told. I will recount both briefly.
The Sad Tale
Leicester is probably the most diverse city in the country in terms of ethnicity, Chinese, Jewish, Bangladeshi, Ugandan Indian, Hindu, Sikh, West Indian, Nigerian, white British and Irish and many more culture live together with comparatively little cultural conflict. The biggest mobilisation of police for 25 years in the country (the biggest since the miners strikes, which were large in Leicestershire) did little to protect the city from the threat of the EDL, who turned up in numbers of over 1000, building on their poor showing in Bradford.
The EDL started off by pelting the piss poor showing for the regionally organised UAF demo with coins, bottles and smoke bombs. This was achieved despite being divided by fifty feet and two massive steel barricades. Whilst the demo was at least a majority of locals, the vast majority of Leicestershire residents stayed at home as the country wide press whipped up a fear similar to pre the G20 during the week preceding the demonstration.
Sadly the nearly 2000 strong police couldn't contain the EDL, in scenes that some Anarchists might only dream of achieving regularly, the EDL broke through the police lines in 3 different places and went on to smash some buildings and chase local Asian and Black youth through the back streets of Leicester. At one point there was a stand off where the numbers were on the local youth's side (maybe 150 to 100 EDL), but the Leicester youth, not having seen any conflict before, and with no experienced anti fascists in sight, turned and fled after an exchange of insults.
The police regained control before the EDL managed to actually get into the estates that they wished to attack, but the damage had been done. With grinning EDL members everywhere, chanting and confidently bucking the police the day could be seen as a success for them, through and through. If they had entered the estates they might have had a different story to tell with MDL and the local community having organised in large numbers and confidence to oppose any threat to Highfields.
As it was, dancing on roofs and abandoned industrial parks was seen before the majority of the EDL headed home. Many, however, stayed on in the city, and the drinking holes they had been designated (£1.49 a pint of Stella!!) turned into areas of conflict with the police who kettled the pubs. Some managed to find their way elsewhere in the city and fights broke out all night across the city centre. Though this is not entirely unusual for Leicester city centre, it was seen to be on a scale larger than usual and was even to potentially threaten the Leicester marathon the next day.
Buoyed by this success, and of their flash mob in market Harborough to the south, and with an increasing diversity of tactics, where next for the EDL. More importantly where next for the anti fascist movement?
Firstly, we should be aware that, as strenuous as counter mobilisation is, we should continue this in some form until we have truly buried this increasingly fascist organisation.
Second, they are a fascist organisation and are attacking SWP meetings as well as spouting racist rhetoric and threatening minority communities (they have attacked a Hindu temple as well as Mosques - probably borne out of their own ignorance). They are here to divide working people at a time when much unity is needed.
Whatever people may think of the Socialist Workers Party, their meetings should not be allowed to be disrupted by fascists).
Third, In places in the Midlands the VAST majority come from outside the city, this is true in fact of most of their mobilisations. Finding out coach companies that support them by transporting them and taking appropriate action (a strongly worded letter perhaps?) would be a proactive way of dealing with them.