Stop the EDL in Sheffield!


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.

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


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

Rotherham demo report



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).