Searchlight Magazine

Stop the EDL in Walthamstow and Chelmsford

The violent Islamophobes of the English Defence League had planned to march in Walthamstow on 18 August to coincide with Eid al-Fitr, an important Muslim festival. After overwhelming public opposition the EDL leaders Stephen Lennon and Kev Carroll postponed the event to 1 September 2012, citing “prior commitments”.

Although the EDL’s decision to back down is good, they are never welcome in Waltham Forest, says the community group We Are Waltham Forest. “We are a very diverse and vibrant community. We like it that way. We do not want fascists in our community trying to sow division, threaten our residents and local businesses.

“The EDL march would take place during the Paralympics. Local residents will be hosting hundreds of international visitors. The London 2012 Games aim to ‘create a truly inclusive culture where diversity is valued and celebrated … where everyone feels welcomed and respected.’ To have fascists marching in an Olympic borough goes completely against this ethos.”

Calling for action against the EDL on the new date, We Are Waltham Forest, a broad-based campaign of local residents who oppose the EDL marching in the borough, adds: “It is vital, therefore, that we as a community show our defiance against the EDL and celebrate our multi-cultural community.”

The group plans several evening and weekend leafleting sessions in the run-up to 1 September, plus a film show fundraiser on Friday 17 August at Harmony Hall, 10 Truro Road, Walthamstow, E17 7BY. Doors open 7.30pm, entry £5/£2 plus donations. The film is a history of fighting fascism through the decades starting from Cable Street. There will be speakers and a refreshments.

On 1 September antifascists should gather in Walthamstow town centre from 11am to celebrate Waltham Forest’s multicultural community and send the EDL packing.

We Are Waltham Forest still plans a large day of action on 18 August to ensure that if any EDL do turn up on the original demo date, they will be overwhelmed. (It is worth remembering that these people can never be trusted). Antifascists will be leafleting the parade in Walthamstow from 11am until 2pm.

Anyone who can help should email Waltham Forest Unite Against Fascism.

 

Chelmsford

Instead of going to Walthamstow, the EDL now intends to march in Chelmsford on 18 August, so much for their leaders’ “prior commitments”. In response, United Chelmsford has organised a march to voice its opposition to the EDL and its attempt to divide our community.

Political activists, working with Chelmsford TUC and others, have been collecting names in the High Street showing their support for the city’s “Statement Against Racism” (see below), which has been signed by all the political parties and many faith leaders.

People are being urged to join United Chelmsford’s march on 18 August. Assemble at 11.30am in Tindal Square and march through the city at 1pm. The march will return to Tindal Square where further speeches will take place.

The meeting is supported by Unite Against Fascism and a range of speakers have been invited reflecting the community.

Malcolm Wallace, Secretary of Chelmsford TUC, speaking on behalf of United Chelmsford, said: “I urge as many people as possible to attend this rally to show their opposition to racism and the EDL’s attempt to divide our community.”

United Chelmsford was formed by Chelmsford TUC, Chelmsford Amnesty International and a wide range of political parties and individuals in Chelmsford. This was in response to a march by EDL members in our city in July and their intention to return to Chelmsford on 18 August.

Statement against racism

WE DECLARE OUR OPPOSITION TO RACISM AND FASCISM

We, the people of Chelmsford, are totally opposed to all those who seek to promote racism in our society. We strongly believe that the lessons of history show that racism and fascism, if unchallenged, will provoke fear and intimidation among many within our City. We believe that diversity is a strength and a cause for celebration, and that those who promote racism divide our community.

All signatories to this statement have a shared belief in justice, fairness and equality. We oppose racism wherever it takes place.

We declare our willingness to co-operate with political parties, faith groups and others that take a stand against those that promote racist and fascist political views.

Agreed by:

POLITICAL: Alliance for Green Socialism, Co-operative Party, Chelmsford Borough Council, Chelmsford Conservatives, Green Party, John Whittingdale OBE MP, Labour Party, Liberal Democrats, UK Independence Party, Respect, Simon Burns MP, Socialist Workers’ Party.

LOCAL COMMUNITY GROUPS: Amnesty International Chelmsford Group, Soroptimist International of Chelmsford, United Nations Association.

FAITH: Central Baptist Church, Chelmsford Jamia Masjid (Mosque), Chelmsford YMCA, Father Ivor Morris Church of the Ascension, Jennifer A. Hodgkin, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), Major Michael Highton, Divisional Commander of the Salvation Army, London North-East Division, Rt. Revd. John Gladwin, Former Bishop of Chelmsford, Rev. Dr. Paul Beasley-Murray, Senior Minister, Central Baptist Church, Rev. Elizabeth Caswell, Moderator of the Eastern Synod of the United Reformed Church, Rev. John Alan Cox, Christ Church URC, Rev. Anne Brown Chair of Essex, Beds, & Herts Methodist District, Rev. Sheila Martin, Regional Minister, Eastern Baptist Association, The Essex Churches Council for Industry and Commerce, Thomas McMahon, Bishop of Brentwood Diocese.

EMPLOYERS AND UNIONS: Frankie Whiffen, Former President Anglia Ruskin University Student Union, Chelmsford TUC, Communication Workers’ Union (Essex Amal), National Association of Schoolmasters and Women Teachers (Essex Federation), Royal College of Nursing (Essex), Thompsons Solicitors, Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (Anglia 1 & 2 branches), Unison (Mid Essex Hospitals, Chelmsford Borough Council & Essex County branches).

CONTACT: Malcolm Wallace, 28 Rossendale, Chelmsford CM1 2UA. Tel. 01245601373 Email: maljan9@gmail.com

© 2013 Searchlight Magazine Ltd, PO Box 1576, Ilford IG5 0NG

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