August 14, 2011

Telford: community, unions, football fans unite against EDL

Around 400 people demonstrated in the Wellington area of Telford today against the racists and fascists of the English Defence League.

The turnout of people, overwhelmingly from the town itself, included trade unionists, members of the local Muslim community, lots of young people and fans of football club AFC Telford.

The EDL was banned from marching by the home secretary but staged a static demo anyway in a bid to stir up anti-Muslim racism, hatred and division. They mustered up to 300 racists and fascists, despite mobilising from as far afield as London, Berkshire, Essex and Yorkshire.

There was a lively mood and a great feeling of community solidarity at the anti-racist demo, with flags and banners from the local branch of Unite, Telford Unison, Telford and Shropshire Trades Council, the civil servants’ PCS and the teachers’ NUT union.

The antiracist crowd heard speakers from local union branches, faith group leaders and activists, before marching through the town past the local mosque, with chants of “EDL, go to hell!” A speaker from the trades council told the crowd that the EDL were “not welcome here” and never had been. The antiracist demo showed the true feelinng of the community, he said.

The chair of the local mosque said:
'Islamophobia is a blight on our society. Racism is what the EDL edl is using to try and divide communities.'
UAF joint secretary Weyman Bennett told the demo:
'We have to oppose the EDL wherever we are, with multiracial, multicultural demonstrations that fight racism and the Nazis, because banning them doesn’t stop them. Only mass opposition is an effective way to break the EDL.'
He urged people from Telford to join the national demonstration against the EDL in Tower Hamlets, east London, on Saturday 3 September.

The antiracist demo also included a group of football fans, angry that the EDL’s racist event had forced the cancellation of AFC Telford’s home game against Luton Town. They brought a banner with the slogan “Bucks aginst racism”, making reference to the club’s nickname.

One fan, Olly, explained that the fixture would have been Telford’s first in the football conference after being re-established as a supporter-led club. He said:
'We’re gutted that our game was cancelled today. We’ve been waiting seven years for this game. Our goal all that time has been to be back in the conference. The EDL have really alienated themselves from Telford fans – everyone blames them for game being cancelled.'
Local UAF activists collected a list of names of people wanting to go to the national demo.


Thanks to La Di Da Gunner Graham for the heads-up

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