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Anti-fascist news from the capital

The Met Police made nearly 300 arrests on Saturday (07/09/13) in order to allow the EDL to march across Tower Bridge and into the outskirts of Tower Hamlets.

Update - the final 'official' figure for arrests was 286.

The day started well enough with hundreds answering the Anti -Fascist Network's call to stop the EDL. The AFN responding to earlier threats by the Met to march the league into the heart of Tower Hamlets had announced their meeting point as Altab Ali park – effectively as a side rally to the Unite against Fascism shindig.

The UAF affair went down much as expected – a platform with speakers firmly within the designated protest zone. In the end they produced nearly fifty speakers (all the usual suspects and local worthies). It also has to be said that the UAF really only started banging the drum for Tower Hamlets when it was clear that a police ban on an EDL march into Tower Hamlets proper would be enforced.

Meanwhile the AFN quietly assembled towards the back of the park and when the moment came around 500 surged out behind the banners and to the cops' surprise marched east in order to outflank them and exploit a few undefended side streets. Many locals joined in with the break away.

Swinging round, the block made for Tower Bridge and tried to make its way through the hastily improvised police cordons. Some were kettled or turned back but one group of around a hundred made it to within sight of the EDL's rally point on Tower Bridge. Determined attempts to break through were met with the threat of horses and dogs. In the end the exchange between anti-fascists and EDL was limited to shouting abuse.

Other anti-fascists operated in small groups along the route of the EDL's march. After the huge build up and with all the benefits of the Lee Rigby incident the league only numbered around 600 on the day. One SchNEWS reporter who walked alongside them said “They seemed pretty despondent, there was very little shouting or chanting”.

At the EDL's rally point at Aldgate station one brave couple, who'd evaded police detection, unfurled a banner with the pithy slogan “Racists fuck off”. This provoked a hail of bottles from the enraged EDL. The banner wielders were then nicked for 'breach of the peace'. There were also (unconfirmed) reports that non-aligned anti-fascists got into a building site to the south of the rally and hurled bricks into the crowd.

The EDL were permitted a half hour rally, during which Tommy Robinson announced a series of charity walks in the Tower Hamlets area, an obvious move in light of the astounding success of the last one. They were then marched directly back along their route and embarked on their buses. A handful remained drinking under the watchful eyes of cops in pubs near the bridge. No EDL supporters managed any kind of visible presence in Tower Hamlets on the day.

As the news of the EDL's departure came through the UAF staged a 'victory march' along Whitechapel High St. The celebration of this 'victory' while nearly two hundred comrades were being held in police kettles and being prepared for mass arrest was condemned by at least one AFN activist as a “fucking disgrace”.

Police brought commandeered buses to the two kettles and began loading prisoners into them to be distributed to police stations across London. Arrest support was organised by Green and Black Cross across the capital, with activists waiting outside police stations for released detainees. As far as SchNEWS is aware virtually nobody has been charged with an offence or even interviewed. They have all been bailed away from 'demonstrations by the BNP, EDL or EVF inside the M25'. These are the very same bail conditions handed out to activists who confronted the BNP's attempted march on the Cenotaph . Clearly the Met at least are worried about the growing presence of militant anti-fascists on the streets.

Were you arrested? If you haven't already then it's probably worth your while to contact Green and Black Cross who are collating information and organising legal support.



For more information on autonomous street based anti-fascism – ANTI FASCIST NETWORK

There are 15 comments on this story...
Added By: Jo Makepeace - 8th September 2013 @ 9:19 PM
Estimates of arrests are being continually revised upwards - if we get a definitive figure at any point we'll stick it up.
Added By: Anonymous - 8th September 2013 @ 9:50 PM
This article is not accurate and needs updating! Around 100 antifascists blocked the EDLs march route near the bottom of Mansell Street and held their ground, forcing the police to divert the EDLs march into the City of London and preventing the EDL from marching into the residential areas of tower hamlets, as they had intended. This should really be mentioned as it was the biggest success of the day
Added By: Jo Makepeace - 8th September 2013 @ 10:02 PM
" one group of around a hundred made it to within sight of the EDL's rally point on Tower Bridge" - fifth paragraph.
Added By: Anonymous - 8th September 2013 @ 11:26 PM
yeah but that didn't mean that "exchanges were limited to shouting abuse!!!!"

Thats fails to give the credit deserved to the antifascists who stopped the EDL from entering Tower Hamlets, even though they didn't do that by fighting. The group reached that point as the EDL reached the top of Tower Bridge, forcing police to stop the EDL march while they decided what to do, and when the police found they couldn't push the antifascists back they had to divert the EDL march into the city and away from the residential areas of tower hamlets as the EDL had planned.

this going to be added to the write up?????
Added By: Jo Makepeace - 9th September 2013 @ 7:21 AM
Some of us were in that group (the Mansell St kettle) so we're not trying to run it down! We're also trying to give an accurate and reliable version of events on the day - it's not clear if the EDL were going to be marched up that street - certainly the cops paused to decide what to do though.
Added By: Anonymous - 9th September 2013 @ 1:36 PM
What credit to the antifa are you talking about? Diversion of the EDL march? Have you read the conditions that Met issued to the EDL on 4th Sep? It clearly says:
"2. The march must take place on the following route - Queen Elizabeth Street , Tower Bridge Road, Tower Bridge Approach, The Minories and then into Aldgate High Street, not to go beyond the junction with Mansell Street. It must follow the same route back to the dispersal point in Queen Elizabeth Street."
Let's just admit, as much as we want to call it a victory, that it actually was a failure. Tbh, i think we never even had much chance. We were massively outnumbered by pigs, EDL route was planned with careful consideration and even if antifa made it one street further than they did and got kettled on the Minories, where the march was passing, it was more than easy for the cops to divert the route to Mansell street and EDL would still reach their farthest point - junction of Mansell st. and Aldgate High st. I think the only way to actually stop the march, would be if we made it to Tower Bridge or Tower Bridge Approach and got kettled there, but pigs knew that all too well.
Second failure was our inability in any way to confront and put pressure on the pigs outside the kettle. 286 were arrested in the two kettles and (I can speak only for Commercial road kettle) there were just few handfulls of friends and legal observers trying to support. Where was the rest of counter demo? Where was the local community when hundreds of people were being arrested outside their homes for trying to defend them from racist thugs? If there were few thousands in the afternoon/early evening surrounding the kettles, all these unnecesarry arests might have proven too difficult for the pigs to facilitate, especially that EDL by then were long gone and there was no threat of disorder or disruption anymore.
For sure it wasn't a victory for the EDL.They were marched by Met mainly through the area that's not part of Tower Hamlets and there were hardly any residents en route, but that doesn't mean that it was a victory for us either.
In my opinion, there was only one winner on Saturday - Metropolitan Police. They were in control pretty much all the time, they kept demo and counter demo apart, they will have 300 people on bail for months and, most importantly, they got about 150 new sets of photos, fingerprints & DNA samples (guessing that half of those arrested, were arrested for the first time) without having much of a resistance...
Added By: Grace - 9th September 2013 @ 7:03 PM
I've heard that those (including locals) who gathered to support people in the kettle were moved on by Tower Hamlets Council officials. I guess that's how police intimidation works - don't try and defend these people or you'll end up arrested too.
Added By: Anonymous - 12th September 2013 @ 9:06 AM
The best placer to start would have been london Bridge, I was theer at 11, their meet up time, and loads of EDL wandering around shouting, UAF were not interested in going there......
Added By: Anonymous - 12th September 2013 @ 9:08 AM
oops sorry for spelling mistakes "place" London" "there"
Added By: Jo Makepeace - 12th September 2013 @ 9:26 AM
There's probably a question mark over what would have happened if we'd all tried to meet up at Tower Bridge at 11. You're right the UAF weren't interested though. This is the AFN.
Added By: WatchingTwoBandsOfHooliesFight - 17th September 2013 @ 7:13 AM
Lee Rigby "incident"!? You meant to say "murder" of course.
Added By: Jo Makepeace - 19th September 2013 @ 7:48 AM
Murder, two shootings, two arrests and an ongoing trial - "incident".
Added By: Anonymous - 20th September 2013 @ 9:14 PM
100 at Mansell street!? are people delusional or what!? I was there and we were no more than 30 ... NO MORE! it was a complete failure yes! and before the police moved closer in on us we had the LIBERTY to push the lesser of them back and cross! But it seemed like whenever everyone saw two or three coppers standing with a one solo big fat van on a fucking wide and accessible road they simply retreated and ran off to another street for reasons beyond me! and everyone scattered eventually into small, "one-man-shoutouts followed by awkward silence" groups .. there was absolutely no organisation! and from where I was standing the entire anti-fascist counter-edl-protest spirit was completely amateur and pretentious! it's a police run state.. and the real anti-fascist activists were probably back home during all that because knowing it's just not fucking worth the effort going down there and marching with peaceful and passive aggressive muslims only to end up in a kettle with some merry university kids and vice journalists .. it was embarrassing being a part of it! especially after the scatter and kettling! but unfortunately when i finally decided to go home i went to the police station instead! what we need are proper meetings month ahead of protest dates, and if you wanna go beyond pig barricades then it ain't so smart to advertise it all over london months ahead now is it? especially without a plan of action in mind WHAT SO EVER, only for those copper assholes to start arranging everything from top to bottom months ahead like WE ought to! because surprise.. when people start shouting for everyone to go this way or that ; plans on impulse.. yes everyone will scatter.. and accordingly.. no solidarity, no chance!
Added By: Jo Makepeace - 24th September 2013 @ 9:32 PM
Thanks for that anon - if there were only 30 at Mansell St how did the cops manage to make so many arrests?
Added By: Zen Master Arnie Terminator - 20th October 2013 @ 1:36 AM

Police body armour has a primary weakness.
If you pour petrol inside while the policeman is whizzing off his head, you can set fire to him or her and they will burn down to a black, smokey, stump.
The secondary weakness is the face underneath the helmet visor.
Just spray spirits of salts in.
Give Generously.

Zen Master Arnie Terminator
I'll Be Back In Black
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Twitter: @SchNEWS