[What follows is a personal report on the national mobilisation against the White Man March]
The day started off brightly, in both terms of the weather and of moral. Various anti-fascist groups from around the country began the day by meeting up at St Luke’s church in Liverpool. They were also joined by members and supporters of the UAF, Trade Unions, Love Activists and other groups.
The meeting point was an old church that had been bombed out during the war by the Nazis, a rather apt meeting point then considering the history of the church. The irony should not be lost when hundreds of people meet up at a church, a church previously bombed by pilots of the Luftwaffe, subscribers of hate and of Hitler’s ideology, to set off on a march opposing some of the same ideas that people had then, as unfortunately, a very small group of people do now – support.
By the time the march set off, it is fair to say there were at least 300 to 400 in attendance.
The aim of the day was to stop the march at any cost, the White Man March, a march which had been organised by a group called National Action (NA). It was rumoured that up to 150 nasty, small minded and openly racist members of NA would turn up in Liverpool and would march through the streets waving their fascist flags and shouting racial slurs.
Now 150 may not sound a lot in comparison to the 460,000 residents of Liverpool, but would you want 150 openly racist, fascist and Hitler adoring moronic members of a far right group traipsing unchallenged through your town?
Amidst a sea of banners and red flags, chants were shouted a plenty. It was great to see so many locals of Liverpool either clapping in support and or joining the march itself as we walked from St Luke’s through the town and up to Liverpool Lime Street station. Intelligence received was that some of the fascists were in the Wetherspoons pub, The North Western by the station. Soon a sea of anti-fascists were lined up outside, although they were unable to gain access due to the Police blocking all entrances and ‘protecting’ the fascists whilst they were in the pub.
More intelligence came through that a group of fascists were in the station itself. This indeed was true; a group of fascists were surrounded for their own protection by the police were outside the stations left luggage shop (now the subject of much derision). They were soon surrounded by a very large crowd of anti-fascists trying to push their way through to get at the fascists. Various objects such as water bottles, eggs and bananas were hurled in their direction, many of these objects hitting their desired targets!
The fascists proceeded to retreat inside the shop; it was at this point that the shutters came down on the left luggage shop, thereby trapping/protecting the fascists inside. After a period of time, the fascists were then bundled out of a side entrance of the station while under heavy police protection in to police vans and taken away from the scene for their own safety. Also in the station was one of the leaders/speakers of the NA, who not only got his notebook taken from him, but also was confronted by various anti-fascists until the police intervened.
Outside of all of this, another leader of the NA was also being confronted; he had milk thrown all over him for his troubles. He was then bundled into the back of a police van and driven away for his own protection. While all this was going on, a group of 5/6 fascists, one who believed to be activists involved in National Front (NF) were crossing the road near the train station, seemingly trying to get to the safety of the Wetherspoons pub, The North Western.
They were confronted by a group of ant-fascists who soon surrounded the group, this essentially stopping them from going anywhere. The police seeing this quickly intervened, not before an exchange of pleasantries took place. The police then proceeded to walk the group up the street and to the police vans parked at the back of the station. The swell of anti-fascists soon got quite big and had surrounded both the police and the fascists as they walked up the street. There was lots of pushing and shoving and insults aimed at the fascists, with this culminating in lots of exchanges. These measures only stopped once more when police arrived on foot and on horseback. The police then proceeded to bundle the fascists in to a police wagon and then drive off. This then left only a handful of fascists in The North Western, who again were also surrounded and protected by the police as they were escorted out of the pub, again in to police wagons and driven off for their own safety.
The police tried to start a rumour that the NA had indeed cancelled their march and that we should perhaps start to leave the area, instead the anti-fascists made their way down to Pier Head, the site of the NA’s march starting point. A huge convoy of anti-fascists made their way down to Pier Head singing songs, shouting chants and waving their flags. It was a great sight to see.
There was easily a 1000 or so on the march as once again the anti-fascists took to the streets of Liverpool and marched their way through the city. During the march whilst taking the time to talk to some Liverpudlians, there was talk of how quite a few had never been to anything like this before i.e. an anti-fascist march. They spoke of how proud they felt that Liverpool had shown the door to the fascists and had made it clear that any form of fascism and or racism definitely had no place whatsoever in their great city.
Once the march had reached Pier Head, a great cheer went up. The fascists were nowhere to be seen, instead all that stood was a huge mass of people cheering and waving flags and congratulating each other on the success of how the fascists were well and truly smashed and booted out of Liverpool as fast as they came. The march culminated with flags being flown, smoke bombs being let off and a rousing rendition of “we are the reds” with hundreds of anti-fascists joining in and jumping up and down.
For further reports see the Anti-fascist Network.
London Anti-Fascists have put a London-wide call-out for a bloc against the fascist Pegida group. 4pm Saturday 4th April / Central London
“We urge all of our supporters to join us on the streets as part of a mass show of strength against PEGIDA and against all far-right movements.”
One would perhaps be downhearted if one looked at the political situation since Milbank 2010 when the promise of the student revolt of that period was to quickly disappear. Millbank was a moment when there was a sudden, and to many, unexpected break with the routine politics of Things As They Are. Not long after the August 2011 riots in London, Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester and elsewhere were sparked by the police execution of Mark Duggan. The initial riot in Tottenham was a direct result of Duggan’s killing, but the riots that broke out elsewhere were aimed primarily at the police and at major retail outlets, with varying aspects depending on the area. In Nottingham for example, attacks against the police were the main theme, in other areas it was looting of retail outlets. Police harassment, racism and poverty were the main triggers of these actions. The State responded with over 3,000 arrests and over 1,000 convictions, many of them exceptionally harsh and draconian in an attempt to quell any further rioting. In the short term this seems to have been effective.
Since then we have had several demonstrations against austerity measures organised by the TUC, which while they initially attracted large numbers of people, continued to reproduce the old A-B route routine.
Unrest among students died down but what has been notable is that a small minority of students have developed intransigent positions in terms of attitudes to the police and their presence on campuses. Alongside this was a growing aversion to the various Leninist organisations, in particular the Socialist Workers Party, partly because of the Comrade Delta events and partly because of attempts to use student actions merely as opportunities to recruit to the SWP.
As a result this determined minority has faced heavy repression as in London over the winter of 2013/2014 and at the demonstration in Birmingham in January 2014 with heavy police presences, kettling and many arrests. The Government and their police servants were determined to that any re-run of Millbank should be nipped in the bud.
A sign that things were changing was the student demonstration in London on November 19th. The offices of NUS England were daubed beforehand with slogans after it refused to back the demonstration. The barriers that now surround Parliament Square were torn down by sections of the crowd, something that Occupy London had signally failed to do in a separate action. The area in front of Parliament was then occupied. Subsequently mobile groups numbering a few hundreds moved around the area playing cat and mouse with police detachments and threw paint bombs at the Department for Business Innovation and Skills and a nearby Starbucks and MacDonald’s that happened to be in the way. This was in spite of a heavy presence of several hundred police including the riot police of the Territorial Support Group and their subsequent violent attacks on students which involved several people being punched in the face.
This was a precursor of what was to happen with the demonstration called by London Black Revolutionaries for November 26th. The LBR stood firm against an attempt by the SWP and its front Stand Up To Racism to hijack the evening action by putting on a separate event earlier in the evening. Despite the bullying of SUTR head honcho and SWP member Weyman Bennett to bully the LBR with threats to shut them down up to 3,000 people joined the action that evening. Many were from the same constituency that was involved in the 2011 riots, black and Asian youth disgusted by the continuing racism and harassment of the Metropolitan Police and by oppression and racism in general. This resulted in large numbers of people blocking Regent Street and Oxford Street to 11.30 at night. The police were caught on the hop with no arrests made. This event was doubly significant as it
- Revealed the increasing hostility towards the SWP and indeed to the Leninist parties in general and may perhaps be more damaging in the long run than the crisis over rape denial by the rump of the SWP. People are learning how to circumvent the destructive activities of the vanguardist rackets ( although an event organised by two black women on Ferguson was sabotaged by the SWP in Manchester)
- Revealed that black and Asian youth can self-mobilise and are once again responding to racism and oppression and on this occasion linked with LBR and other revolutionaries in this mobilisation. This has important consequences for the future struggle.
In the meantime the student day of action on December 3rd 2014 resulted in protests, blockades and occupations around Britain. At Warwick University the police responded with an unprovoked attack in which they employed pepper spray and a taser. As we noted earlier, the government and the police are determined to put a stop to a repeat of Millbank and an escalation of actions and they are turning to more brutal and authoritarian means to bring this about. Such a course of action has the potential to further escalate the situation with more students being drawn into the actions. At the same time new and inventive tactics have to be developed to both counter the police and the vanguardist outfits. Hopefully we are seeing signs of this happening already.
Obviously if a new student movement emerges out of these developments they must actively link up with the disaffected youth we talked about earlier on and with activists in the neighbourhood and the workplace towards a generalisation of struggle. This is the answer to the Autumn Statement and the promised massive cuts announced by Osborne.
Speed the Day!