Stop the White Man March on 15th August

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WMM blog

On Saturday 15th August, fascists from across the UK will descend on Liverpool for the White Man March, which they hope will be the biggest explicitly neo-Nazi seen in this country in decades.

The first White Man March was held in Newcastle in March. Around 100 neo-Nazis marched through the city before burning gay, communist and Israeli flags, screaming “Hitler was right” and sieg-heiling at counter-protestors. Yesterday a far right demo in Rotherham took place, with a large proportion of attendees openly Nazi, and attracting about 150 people. The organisers of the White Man March are hoping to attract even more people to Liverpool.

The White Man March is organised primarily by members of neo-Nazi youth group National Action, but the march will also be attended by members of the Misanthropic Division, the North West Infidels, National Rebirth of Poland and the British Movement.

A lot of the supporters of these groups are loners making threats from behind their keyboards, but they do pose a physical threat and they will grow in confidence the longer they are left unchallenged. National Action supporter Zack Davies was recently found guilty of attempted murder after stabbing a Sikh man in a supermarket, and members of the North West Infidels have attacked anti-fascists and striking workers in Liverpool.

History has shown that Nazis need to be confronted head on, so they don’t have the space to spread their racist bile and grow in size and confidence. Given the chance, they will attack workers’ organisations, ethnic minorities, LGBT people and anyone else they perceive as their enemy.

The Facebook event for the AFN’s counter-demo can be found here. If you have any questions, please contact us at sheffieldafn@riseup.net

Thoughts on yesterday’s demo

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Thanks to everyone who came out yesterday. The level of policing was ridiculous, with dogs and horses used to prevent us getting near to the EDL and antifascists given dispersal orders so they had to leave the city, so there are definitely conversations to be had about how to react in the face of that level of police repression.

The EDL got out around 200 people, which is a fraction of what they could once get on the street, and 0.1% of the number who marched in London against austerity two weeks ago, but any racist march is still a threat to our communities.

The EDL leadership claim that they are only against “Muslim extremists” but as always, EDL members were dishing out widespread and indiscriminate racist abuse. They claimed they didn’t want to disrupt Pride, but queer anti-racists were subject to homophobic abuse.

We need to talk about tactics for demonstrations, but as important in fighting fascism are the day-to-day efforts we’re making to work across communities to fight for real change – not blaming Muslims or migrants for our working and living conditions but working with those in our workplaces and communities to fight for a better life for all of us.

SAFN plans to meet soon to discuss what lessons we can draw from today and to continue to plan for future anti-fascist activity, like the White Man March on 15th August in Liverpool.

All out on Saturday! Details for our demo against the EDL

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The EDL are coming to Sheffield this Saturday. We are assembling at the junction of Howard Street and Arundel Gate at 1pm, so tell your mates and come join us.

A note on safety: There will be lots of racist thugs in town, getting increasingly drunk from the morning, so look after yourselves and your friends. The EDL plan on drinking in a number of pubs including the Graduate, the Old Monk and the Norfolk Arms.

Travel in groups to the demo, and think about putting banners etc away until you arrive. If you have any information on the activities of the EDL on the day, send us a message on Facebook or tweet @sheffieldafn

Stop the EDL in Sheffield!

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Stop the EDL

The English Defence League are planning on coming to Sheffield on 4th July and we’ll be on the streets to show them they’re not welcome.

Whenever the EDL are in town their members intimidate and racially abuse locals, and we find their exploitation of the serious issue of child abuse to whip up racial hatred especially egregious. They have nothing to say about child abuse perpetrated by white people, or the effects of cuts and austerity on child protection, but just seek to use the issue for political gain.

We will not succumb to bigoted, dangerous and hateful hijacking of the experience of survivors of abuse, and we will not let nationalism and racism divide our class.

We need working class unity between black and white and people of different faiths, and none, in order to resist the driving down of our living standards by the ruling class. Integration and mutual support between different communities can be based on solidarity and opposition to the rich and powerful who benefit from our divisions: the Government and profiteers who axe the jobs we need to survive, neglect our homes, and dismantle the public services that help us to live together safely and collectively.

A guide to the far right in Sheffield

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UK Aktion have produced a handy guide to the UK’s far right. Some of the groups are too exotic to spot in Sheffield, and some (ahem, Casuals, ahem) barely exist outside their own overactive imaginations, but there are some that local anti-fascists should be aware of.

English Defence League

The EDL have been the far right group with the most active members in Sheffield over the last few years, but most of that activity has been travelling to EDL demos elsewhere. Their appearances in Sheffield have been rather shambolic e.g. protesting against Halal meat outside a KFC which didn’t sell Halal meat, marching against a new mosque that turned out to be a KFC and being prevented from marching by antifascists. They have also been beset by internal feuding, with one member being accused of bringing a gang to attack another member at his house, and another of robbing a collection box. Continue reading

Anti-Fascist Network statement on the far-right and the Rotherham scandal

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Via Anti-Fascist Network

It is the responsibility of anti-racists and anti-fascists to break the silence on the nature of the far-right’s presence in Rotherham.

By now virtually everyone in the country must be acquainted with the horrific details of the child sex abuse in Rotherham. As far as the extreme-right are concerned this is the perfect storm: a gang of Asian men with the connivance of ‘politically correct’ authorities engaged in systematic abuse of young white girls. The mainstream media are effectively spouting EDL press releases, while the EDL themselves accuse all those who oppose them of condoning paedophilia. Meanwhile, the whole spectrum of extreme right-wing groups have taken up residence in Rotherham, establishing a permanent camp outside the police station and holding marches and demonstrations through the town, all building up to today’s large ‘unity’ demonstration of all the racist groups.

The far-right have swarmed on this issue solely to push their own divisive and racist agenda. For all the crocodile tears shed for the children of Rotherham they remain silent on all child abuse unless it involves Muslims. If their concern for victims of child abuse was genuine, why restrict their campaign to Rotherham? Why not march against the systematic abuse perpetrated by the clergy, especially that of the Catholic church? Why have they not campaigned for the release of the “lost” Whitehall files relating to abuse and cover-ups at the heart of the British government?

Continue reading

Britain First flop in Dronfield

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Like the Ryanair of the far right, Britain First claimed they were coming to Sheffield but yesterday held their meeting a few miles away in Dronfield, Derbyshire. The landlord of the pub they were meant to be meeting at cancelled when he found out who they were so about 20 of them (some of them journalists) met on a patch of grass by Dronfield station!

Today is day 4 of the Britain First roadshow and they haven’t managed anywhere to get a crowd of more than 20 people, including Dowson, Golding and their uniformed travelling goons.

Rotherham demo report

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Rotherham

Last Saturday the English Defence League (EDL) held a national demonstration in Rotherham, ostensibly against “Muslim grooming gangs”, although this excuse was tacked on weeks after the demo was announced.

Child abuse needs to be tackled wherever it occurs but the EDL’s treatment of the issue is completely opportunistic and disingenuous. They blame all Muslims (or all Pakistanis or British Asians) for the actions of a small minority but they have nothing to say about child abuse perpetrated by Christians or white people (including their own supporters) and certainly don’t portray it as representative of those abusers’ ethnic or religious communities. They have nothing to say about the cuts to children and family services or about the chauvinistic attitudes that led the police to ignore the voices of vulnerable girls in Rotherham and allowed their abuse to continue.

There were around 400 EDL supporters on what was supposed to be a national demo. Although this is more than we’d like, this is a fraction of the numbers they could once get out and their slow terminal decline seems to be continuing. To put the figure in perspective, their attendance on Saturday was less than one percent of the number who marched together against cuts to the NHS last year. So much for Britain’s biggest street movement.

The anti-fascist turnout was disappointing. There were about 40 of us from the Anti-Fascist Network, as well as a small number of Unite Against Fascism (UAF) supporters and other locals. Young BME locals were kettled by police and threatened with arrest before they could reach the town centre, which further reduced numbers. The EDL rely for their numbers on parachuting people in from across the country. Given the UAF’s current unwillingness or inability to organise big counter-demonstrations, we need to do more ourselves to network locally and nationally if we’re to provide an effective response.

Even with a bigger anti-fascist mobilisation, the massive police presence would have made it very hard to get close enough to the EDL to have a visible or disruptive presence. There were over 1000 police in what is a small town centre, making it hard to go anywhere without a police escort, let alone get close to the EDL. For future demonstrations we need to come up with contingency plans so we can do something more productive than just looking over lines of police for a glimpse of the fash.

After the demo, some anti-fascists drinking in the Howard were attacked by about 20 EDL members. The anti-fascists defended themselves and came off better than the fash, but it was a timely reminder that the EDL is made up of people who won’t think twice about using violence, and that we need to be willing and able to defend ourselves. Mark Johnson (or Mark Carlton as he likes to be known), who kicked off first, attempted to attack an anti-racist gig in Leeds a couple of years back. Derek Hemphill, who was arrested at the Howard, has previous for assaulting his (ex-)girlfriend and continuing to harass her. Reasoning won’t work with some people.

Derek Hemphill before he was arrested

Derek Hemphill (left) before he tried to attack anti-fascists

Other EDL members present include Mark Larden (Sheffield), Graham Thompson (Sheffield), Adam Storey (Sheffield), Leanne Johnson (Halifax), Hayley Ellis (Leeds), Adam Repton (Nottingham) and Wayne Robertson (Thamesmead, London).

Internet safety for anti-fascists: a few basic tips

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The EDL, and the rest of the far-right, like to try and intimidate anti-fascists by spreading their details around. But they can only do this to you if they know who you are. Here are some simple steps you can take to reduce the risk of the EDL finding out anything about you:

Don’t attract their attention

Most of the far-right’s intelligence gathering is just paying attention to public facebook pages and events, and other public internet conversations like ones on twitter. If you avoid posting in these, it’s much less likely that they’ll pay any attention to you. As a general rule, we would suggest never posting on EDL or other far-right pages – you’re not likely to talk anyone out of being a racist in a heated internet argument, but doing so will make you very visible to the opposition. We would also suggest not posting on publicly viewable anti-fascist pages or in anti-fascist events. If you’ve got something to say to us, that’s great and we’d love to hear from you, but if you send a private message to the Sheffield Anti-Fascist Network page or email us at sheffieldafn@riseup.net then you can get in touch with us without the EDL listening in to the conversation. Continue reading