Whitechapel United Against Division: Reflections on the Anti-EDL Mobilisations on Sunday.

A controversial few weeks on the streets of Whitechapel culminated on Sunday with a complete no-show by the EDL (not surprising given that their “leadership” had spent the last week urging their members not to attend Sunday after the cancellation of the UK-IC conference at the Troxy). However, there was a strong turn out from local people prepared to defend their community from an opportunistic attack by the EDL, whose central London movements had been monitored by WAG spotters.

The presence, on Tuesday, of up to a dozen EDL members in Whitechapel had lent credence to the hysterical claims of the UAF that thousands of EDL supporters would run rampant through Whitechapel on Sunday. Upon reflection WAG believes the UAF, who had spent the previous few weeks scaremongering, behaved irresponsibly in what turned out to be nothing more than a sensational recruitment drive. Despite organizing a 5000-strong march, they obviously felt no sense of responsibility towards local people once they had realized few were willing to be recruited– fleeing Whitechapel for the provinces after giving their speeches and selling their papers. A few hours after the march ended they were nowhere to be seen, leaving the police and locals in a tense stand-off.

WAG’s position is not one of complacency with regards the EDL but one of realism. The 20-or-so EDL trailing from Edgware down to Whitehall, where they all got themselves nicked, represented little physical threat to the local community – who had assembled en masse. At this point, WAG members were more concerned  for the safety of those protestors left behind on the streets outside and around the Mosque. Thankfully, the initially heavy handed and provocative policing gave way to a more hands-off approach as the police realized people were in no mood to be pushed around. There was, however, some arrests and reports of injuries sustained by youths from police truncheons.

WAG members were at all times present on the streets in and around the Mosque (the central focus of people’s attention), talking to people in the crowd and distributing flyers containing basic legal information to those who wanted it and ready to stand shoulder to shoulder with our neighbors against provocation.

One note of concern was that rising tension had seen misdirected anger focused on an unfortunate van driver and a lone “skinhead” who was rescued from an angry crowd by marshalls from the Mosque. It is unclear what exactly the spark for these incidents was but the EDL might like to reflect on such events before deciding on future provocations in the area. Despite these isolated events WAG encountered no hostility, chatting freely with youth from both Tower Hamlets and Newham. It is important to note that despite EDL claims on internet forums Whitechapel was NOT a “no-go area” for white people on Sunday.

With the coming of darkness most people began to head homewards and we hope the nascent friendships formed on day will blossom into productive working relationships in future.

Tower Hamlets, as an economically deprived borough, will suffer more than most in the coming round of cuts promised by the coalition government of Eton-bred elitists. Intolerance and bigotry do not spring up out of nowhere and in a harsh economic climate we need to be on guard against Fascism in whatever form it occurs. The wellspring of unity lies in the common ground that we share and the action we are prepared to take in the fight for a better future for all; regardless of ethnicity, gender, sexuality or religion. Solidarity is our weapon and our message is clear: CLASS WAR NOT RACE WAR!

URGENT: If you or someone you know has been arrested or attacked by the Police during Sunday’s events, write an account of what happened in as much detail as possible and bring it along to the Legal Defence Meeting on Tuesday 22 June, 7pm.

The meeting will take place at London Action Resource Centre (LARC), 62 Fieldgate St, Whitechapel, E1 1ES.

There will be people there to offer help with your case.

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15 responses to “Whitechapel United Against Division: Reflections on the Anti-EDL Mobilisations on Sunday.

  1. great account of the day

  2. Brilliant write up and reflection of the days events. Great to see the interaction between all the anarchists and the youth out on the streets, was refreshing compared to the usual UAF placard waving. Well done to all involved, a real dynamic and fluid operation!
    Hope anarchists across Britain start getting organised within their communities and start standing together in the vein of community defence as a powerful force against the religious extremists and nationalist nutters who are all serving the interests of the exploitative State.

  3. I think the day was a good illustration of us standing strong with both our principles and confidence in our own ability to see through divisions and work with people.

    Islam4UK and their provocations continue to give reason to the EDL, they might as well work for their PR department! Equally the UAF PR hysteria-blatant-misinformation department does a good job in itself to recruit for the EDL. So what’s the solution. For Islam4UK they are a small small group of shariah geeks, middle class kids that were probably bullied at school. Thats how they came across to me. Fanatical they maybe they couldn’t punch their way out of a brown paper bag.

    UAF have had the monopoly on antifascism and race politics in the UK for far too long. They don’t care how many young kids get nicked because it ends up as another piece of political propaganda. I think a campaign leaflet that highlights the problems of UAF and their complete hypocrisy is long long overdue.

    • “…you couldn’t punch your way out of a wet paper bag, with scissors in your hands, it’s the RZA, I stand close to walls like no.4 the lizard” :)

  4. A good account of the day, particularly of UAF and the disgusting, cynical way they whipped up and exploited the anger of the local youth and then left the scene without a thought as to the consequences of their actions. On the other hand, a good day for Whitechapel United Against Division and hopefully a boost for some more solid work in the community…

  5. alondonstation

    UAF had to walk away. It was teatime and Mummy was calling. *sigh* they are truly hopeless.

  6. I think the points above are not relective of what was really going on that day. The muslim youth are sick and tired of racist crap the fact that the EDL turned up on Tuesday a small group and attacked a man and insulted and jeered at others, and other provacative actions that blame and criminalise them meant that they wanted to respond and fight back. Rather than see the uaf as whipping up anger you have very much missed the real problems. I spent a couple of hours talking to many and of the shit they have to put up with from the racists the police and so on. UAF was right to mobilse and stand with those young people what you write above would cut no ice with them on how to fight back. They were proud to be there on Sunday not because UAF willed it. They see their community under attack – and it is. Rather than go down the road of Italy, France Hungary were the left attacked first the muslims religious groups we have a possibilityof pushing back the facists and did so in Barking Stoke and so on – so come on, we are winning so far!

    • Most of the youth on the day I spoke to thought that the uaf were a bunch of jokers, viewing them as outsiders and taking no interest what so ever with the stalls and paper sales of the swp. Yes the youth are very pissed off with the police, a point wag pushed at all the public meetings put on by the uaf but to no avail! Even getting shouted down by the speaker about going on about the police!! You take a very black and white attitude to the situation, this wreaks of trot indoctrination, you don’t at all take into the equation the Speakers intended for The Troxy who espouse views that the Jews did 911 (Oswald Mosely would love that one!), homosexuals should be killed and it’s okay to be beat your wife! All in an area that has major issues with homophobic violence, sexism and division. Why did the uaf not speak up against the Troxy Speakers claiming ignorance and shouting people down as islamaphobic?? I thought you are meant to be against fascism in all it’s forms? The kids on the day came out because they felt under attack, a fear whipped up by the uaf’s propaganda machine, and they were thoroughly pissed off when they heard out that they had been lied to! Yes the youth here won’t stand for racists but that doesn’t take into the fact that gangs have been going around attacking people who they think are edl. This is a very sensitive borough, nothing here is black and white, we very much exist in the grey. But uaf come here thinking its 1930’s and banging on about cable street and have added to the polarisation of communities in the borough by it’s outdated analysis and Trotskyist agenda to recruit for the party! Do you really think you are winning?? Are you that deluded? The edl numbers have grown, you lot have to be protected by the police, and you can’t even defend your own meetings. Hand in hand we see the rise of crazy groups like Muslims Against Crusades i.e. Islam4UK mark 2, who are a tiny group not representative of a majority of muslims who also stir up shit. And what is your stand on that? Silence. The EDL, The UAF, The MAC – please all find an island together where you can spend your days chasing each others tales and leave us all the fuck alone to try and deal with the real struggles of day to day life.

    • Naina

      You’re having a laugh if you think the UAF pushed back the BNP in Barking. The BNP polled 10,000 votes in the local elections in Barking. In Barking in 2008 the BNP received 6,000 votes in the London Assembly elections. Most people would not consider a rise of 4,000 pushing back a party!

      The UAF have a poor record of fighting fascism, and they have to steal other people’s records to make out they’re in some way effective. Weyman Bennett declared at a recent meeting in Bethnal Green that the Anti-Nazi League had driven the BNP off Brick Lane in the 1990s. It was AFA and Youth against Racism in Europe who were responsible for that – and YRE spent a long time working in the area to achieve that result.

      If by ‘fighting back’, you mean having a march when the EDL aren’t turning up, then, yes, you did a top job. If, however, you take ‘fighting back’ to mean, er, fighting back, then the UAF did their usual pisspoor job.

  7. I didn’t make it for the Sunday. But what was clear was the relative failure of the UAF to pull this off. Having decided to march, their presence ends up looking like failed attempt at a victory parade. Pity the people they manage to coerce into their march. Bussed in from outside because the top brass got no actual connections to Whitechapel. And indeed, their underhand and divisive tactical thrusts just show how little respect they have for real democracy or the flow of a political argument. Shame on them…

    Big up WAG!!

  8. fuck the uaf and their typical trot revionisim. The ANL were just as ineffective as UAF. Well done to WAG for all their efforts to actually get down some proper roots in your community and help them.

    Still I’m sure the local UAF will be along to try to take credit for all your hard graft.

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  10. A group of 30 EDL members were in whitechapel today but luckily, they were spotted and chased out of the area and into the train station. This is becoming a major problem as this is becoming a regular thing and it is only a matter of time until the anger errupts.

    • Wuh de rass wrong with dem people, dey waan get kill or wah? Well if they do, it’s on them and I won’t be shedding any tears… the tragedy would be if it hit some innocent people through mistaken identity…

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