… Without Cracking Heads!’
Crivven! Jings! And Help Ma Boab! The triumphant return to Tower Hamlets by the English Defence League was pretty disappointing and they only got as far as Aldgate in much smaller numbers than expected. Not only that, but Mr Tommy got a tug as his handlers needed a word. On a major downer, nearly 300 anti-fascists were arrested.
The EDL plotted up on the south side of the river and, after the usual brouhaha and mischief, set off over Tower Bridge where they suddenly decided to hold a sit-down protest. This lasted about 30 seconds before they got a toe up the hole and told to move on. The actual route kept them out of sight, surrounded by City and Met plod as they trudged along lacking their usual bravado and looking increasingly unspectacular.
The anti-fascist RV point was Altab Ali park at the bottom end of Brick Lane with the usual tedious speeches, paper selling and recruitment drives from the various groups. There was a couple of 1,000 anti-fascists of all political persuasions, races, ages and religions alongside a good selection of union banners.
The EDL managed to pull about 5-600 – which is piss poor for a national demo by the ‘world’s biggest protest movement.’ They took a handful of arrests for the usual silliness and plod kept them well kettled. By the time they had got to their ‘designated protest area’ plod had secured a no-man’s land of about 500 yards between them and us. Plod was also in position to kettle the entire anti-fascist demo and had secured the side streets to stop anyone nicking off and confronting the EDL.
We had plotted up at Liverpool Street where we saw a handful of EDL eejits drinking outside the pub who were then escorted away to the demo. We set off to Tower Hill where we saw another small group of EDL under escort and bereft of their usual blather. We got a bit of plod bother and had to move off sharpish to avoid being nicked or Section 60’d and headed back to Brick Lane following the EDL route with a piece of A4 paper and a lot of caution. We circumnavigated our way back to the park which was an impressive sight. As we arrived the black bloc broke out of the park sharpish and headed east trying to find a way round plod and into the EDL. We stayed at the park and had a mooch about (and a couple of delicious samosas) then headed down to Cable Street guided by our facially hirsute navigator where we bumped into a mob of antifa who had just ‘intercepted’ the march as it headed to Aldgate. There were cops everywhere by this time and as we all headed back to the park we saw a large number of anti-fascists kettled on Commercial Road. They were held for ages then mass-arrested and we heard tell of another mob who had also got trapped by plod. This was blatant political policing. Plod had it down tight and left nothing to chance. We managed to get out and about but it was impossible to get anywhere near the EDL. We hardly got any photos or footage and could hardly see them for vans, cops and dogs.
Plod seemed ready to ‘close the door’ on the whole anti-fascist demo – as we had predicted they would last week! – so we took off back to Stepney to find a pub that was A/ open, B/ not covered in cops. We finally found sanctuary in the cheap embrace of Wetherspoons. As S. said as we settled down to some serious drinking, this was not a victory for anti-fascism but for plod: they kept the EDL well contained, had the park and counter-demo well surrounded and there was very little contact apart from the ‘ambush’ by the comrades we met at Cable Street (how apt!). Despite the celebrations in the park and cries of ‘No Pasaran!’ the EDL did not pass but neither did we. However, this was the best turnout by antifascists since the March For England got battered all over Brighton a few months back. It was good to see local youth out in force alongside trade unionists, anti-fascists of all stripes and local community groups. Mr Tommy was arrested for ‘incitement,’ which will no doubt complicate his ever-increasing legal woes, as did a couple of other EDL bugles. We also heard that Dave ‘Maid In Britian’ Bolton was stewarding and got battered by his own side. Again. Well done Dave, give us your address and we will send you peppermint Aero to cheer you up. Of course, the worst situation was the mass arrests of antifascists who were then given restrictive bail conditions about not protesting fascist demos within the M25 area. The next EDL do is in Bradford so the bail conditions shouldn’t be a problem.