A grassroots aid group called for solidarity donations yesterday to help a man who was hospitalised when he tried to protect a woman and her young daughter from EDL thugs.
The largest EDL rally in some time rampaged through Manchester on Sunday, breaking through police lines and intimidating people in the centre of the city, including abuse of Sikh volunteers who were trying to feed homeless people.
The unnamed man is set to be discharged from hospital at the end of the week, but has no home to go to and Helping Hearts Homeless Foundation is hoping to raise enough to put him up in temporary accommodation. Helping Hearts activist Sareena said:
Thank you to all of you that have donated towards helping with temporary accommodation for this man who we support and love. It’s not a permanent solution but we are hoping to put him in a b&b for a week or so while he is recovering. The total cost being £175. In that time hopefully he’ll find some more permanent accommodation.
Manchester Activist Network, which has been active in self-organised squat Cornerhouse housing up to 50 homeless people from across the city, highlighted the situation today and supported Helping Hearts’ aim.
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EDL gaining confidence?
The Manchester EDL rally, which drew over 1,000 people and rampaged largely unchecked through Manchester city centre, surprised anti-fascists on Sunday as it came only a few days after a Liverpool demo which saw tiny crowds of fascists show up who were roundly humiliated.
The demo, organised by Tommy Cook (AKA Tommy English), was initially promoted as a Gays Against Sharia protest involving a silent vigil to “honour the victims” of the Orlando Nightclub Shoting last year. Analysing the event, Anti-Fascist Network said in a statement:
The large and combative far-right crowd were able to break through police lines and roam the streets of central Manchester. As we always find, whenever the far-right gain a free hand, they respond by abusing and attacking people in the streets.
So we see what happens whenever the fascists get numbers big enough and get bold enough – they attack people, and direct racial and homophobic abuse against anyone they identify as looking not ‘English’ enough for them.
Given the current shambolic state of EDL and that even when the EDL was at its height their ‘LGBT division’ was never very popular with their core constituency of prejudiced bigots, the demo was not expected to be big. It had attracted a mere 40 people to say they would attend on Facebook. The excellent campaign group Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants organised a counter protest, mobilising many in Manchester’s LGBT community to oppose this attempt to hijack the memory of the shooting in America to promote Islamophobic hate.
Things moved quite quickly after the suicide bomb attack on the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester took place on 22 May.
Mr. Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, also known by his pretend name “Tommy Robinson”, got involved. Rubbing his hands with glee in the aftermath of the Manchester attack and the potential opportunities opened up for him, he swiftly took over the already planned demo, re-branding it in the name of his new vehicle UK Against Hate.
We should not be too surprised by this seemingly sudden resurgence of the far-right though. Even though the threat from the organised far-right has seemed to diminish over time, this was largely due to their lack of a credible leader, internal arguments amongst themselves and continuous pressure from anti-fascists and the police, not due to any lack of fertile ground or support for their views. On the contrary – the xenophobic climate created by the Brexit vote, the election of Trump, and the non-stop diet of anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim scaremongering coming from the top down, led by Theresa May’s Home Office and large sections of the media has all created very fertile ground for the far-right – they were just waiting for the right combination of circumstances.
Next – Stop the EDL in London – 24th June
The next planned far-right event will be an official EDL demo on June 24th, which anti-fascists are already organising for.