Sunday, 12 October 2014
Another Bad Day for the EDL in Portsmouth.They did not go where they want.
By Simon Magorian
The EDL had another bad day in Portsmouth.The pretence that this was not an EDL march didn't last long.At Lake rd ,when they assembled near the Al Madani School , the air was rent with cries of E-E EDL.The initial intention of the march organisers had been to march down Albert Road.
Albert Road is widely regarded as Portsmouth's Brick Lane . It is where all the small Asian businesses are, the location for world food restaurants and is regarded as the multicultural centre of Portsmouth.
Unite Against fascism contacted both the Police and Council to oppose their right to walk down such a contentious area. We had also encouraged other people to contact the authorities and complain. The day before the protest police informed them that they would not be allowed to march through that area.
On their Facebook pages they declared they would ignore the route they had been given and would march through anyway.The slogan they use is 5w,meaning "We go where we want". As it turned out with only about 40 people the idea of pushing through the police line did not seem a particularly good idea to them.
So it was not so much "We go where we want" as "We go where we're told to ! "
Also,some people who had turned up believing that this was a dignified protest to commemorate the brutal murder of Alan Henning by Isis left in disgust when they realised who was behind the protest.
The Anti Fascist protest was much more diverse,and much, much larger .After the Fascists left we marched down to the Guildhall led by Jon Woods President of Portsmouth Trades Council with their banner.Also there were the stalwarts of NAS/UWT ,Portsmouth Unison and Unite Community Group, with their banners.It was good to see the women from UCG as there had been an attempt by the EDL to intimidate some women from the group after a recent Gaza demonstration. It was heartening to see that they refuse to be intimidated.
We marched down to Guildhall Square on the way there,there were a couple of incidents.A group split off from the EDL march and shouted outside the Mosque for a few minutes, before they were ejected and a group came alongside our march screaming drunken obscenities.
When the whole thing came to an end in Guildhall Square they appeared to have been whittled down to about 28.They ended up on the Guildhall steps and demonstrated their rather limited repertoire of "English till I die" and "E-E-EDL ",and that was about it.
We stood outside the Civic Offices opposite and had a rally.People queued up to speak from Trade Unions, UAF and the local Mosque to talk about defending multiculturalism and opposing Fascism.There also seemed to be a large number of Students amongst us and people who had never been on one of our protests before.
It was pointed out that they had been organising on the sly and had managed to mobilise around 45 people and we had managed to pull about 100 people together in 48 hours.It was speculated that the human debris opposite represented the Fascists who were banned from Public Transport or were too lazy to join their mates in Birmingham.
Apart from a handful of them running up the stairwell of the Civic Offices to spit at people and throw coins before being removed by the Police,that was it.They then ambled off in a desultory manner to find a pub to get even more drunk.
We outnumbered, outchanted and outstayed them.
Our protest represented the real Portsmouth, Trade Unionists ,Black and White,Jewish and Muslim ,LGBT and students.It was diverse and powerful..It was a source of considerable pride for our town.We clearly outnumbered them .
A brilliant day for Anti-Fascists.