EDL events in Leicester and Nottingham

On Saturday, the EDL held events in towns and cities across the country, as part of their new spike in activity following the murder of Lee Rigby in Woolwich on May 22nd.  Having realised that the pissed-up argy-bargy at their national demos in Newcastle and London the previous weekend hasn’t exactly helped their image, the EDL played these local events differently.  They were all branded as memorials, and participants were urged to stay sober, refrain from chanting or shouting, and to carry no banners or “colours” (that’s branded hoodies to you and me).

In Leicester, around 80 joined the EDL-organised march from the Clock Tower to the war memorial in Victoria Park, where flowers were laid.  A UAF counter-demo of about the same size stood with banners at the Clock Tower, with some heckling of the marchers as they departed, but without further incident.

In Nottingham, about 70 walked from the Trent Bridge Inn to the war memorial on the Victoria Embankment, again laying flowers.  Not wishing to interfere with the flower-laying, a group of about 30 anti-fascists stood quietly with banners on the opposite side of the road from the memorial.  Apart from one aggressive EDL supporter who was restrained by police, there was no interaction between the two sides.

The EDL successfully stayed sober and calm on both these events, and achieved their objective of appearing “reasonable and respectful” – something they are generally find beyond them.  It’s concerning that they appear to have attracted numbers to these commemorations beyond their usual activist base, and not everyone who attended Saturday’s events would have thought of themselves as an EDL member.  In other words, they are having some success at rebuilding their numbers and activity, and are expanding their support base.

The gruesome murder in Woolwich has been a gift for the EDL, allowing them to capitalise on a personal tragedy and surf the wave of outrage for their own ends – despite appeals from both Lee Rigby’s family and his regiment that no racist capital should be made by political groups from his horrible death.  The EDL and other fascist groupings will be working hard over the next few months, and anti-fascists must remain vigilant and keep developing strategies to counter their activities in this challenging time.

 

 


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