On Saturday 23 April – St George’s Day – activists from FRFI, the Anti-Cuts Network (ACN) and other groups which had gathered for a speak-out against the cuts and a Coalition of Resistance protest against corporate tax-dodgers, were surrounded and verbally abused by around 30 English Defence League (EDL) and 20 National Front (NF) supporters at the Grey’s Monument in Newcastle. A ‘Newcastle Unites’ multicultural music event was also disrupted. There was a heavy police presence, at one point completely surrounding the anti-cuts activists, preventing them from speaking to members of the public. Meanwhile the EDL and NF were left free to speak and distribute their literature.
Supporters of FRFI and the ACN gave continuous speeches using megaphones and the Newcastle Unites sound system to politically expose the EDL’s alliance with the ruling class in its attacks on working class people. Many passers-by came to sign petitions, take literature and stand with the anti-cuts activists against the fascists, despite in some cases having to cross lines of fascists and police to do so. The fascists left after just over an hour and the anti-cuts events continued.
This follows a series of recent EDL attacks on progressive political stalls in Newcastle, including on Saturday 19 March when 30 EDL members surrounded and harassed anti-cuts and anti-racist stalls for over two hours. It has become increasingly clear that the EDL not only supports the warmongering foreign policy of the British ruling class, but is also now attacking any independent organisation against the government’s attacks on the poorest sections of the working class. In this they are taking on the characteristics of a genuinely fascist organisation. Last autumn EDL leader Tommy Robinson made public threats against the demonstrations by students and youth against education cuts. Now the EDL has twice mobilised against anti-cuts activists in Newcastle. On 25 April, an FRFI stall against the cuts was heckled and comrades again physically threatened by two EDL members who had been present on the Saturday.
This demonstrates once again the need for joint and collective organisation by progressive organisations in opposition to all the forces attempting to shut down our political activity – be they the police or the EDL, both of whom serve the same ruling class interests.
End Political Policing!
Stop the EDL!
Defend democratic rights!