Saturday, January 14, 2012

The #EDL In Barking - Report ...

Whether it was '50-odd', 80-ish or a very precise '92', it doesn't matter. What does matter is that the EDL's 'big' Barking demo attracted less than 100. They claimed on Twitter (as they do) 250 to 300, but the photo below shows *all* of them. I made it about 80-ish, and I'm getting very good at counting as they stagger drunkenly by.

This is *all* of them. Four flags, and about 80, I reckon.
Myself and friends arrived nice and early to catch the racists in the pub, and my two mates had coffee after coffee in the bar, eavesdropping and tweeting all the EDL plans, plus the usual brave B.S. At that time there was about 35 odd EDL 'warriors' there. A few of them were very odd. (Honestly, do the EDL not know by now that we do this every time?)

Members of UAF and other anti-racist and anti-fascist groups gathered in the town centre at a point on the 'march' route, while the EDL thugs were kept at the station - well, in the pubs near the station - until 1.00pm when their dismal numbers drifted past us, escorted by 'stewards' from Berkshire and East Anglia EDL.

Plenty of abuse and Seig Heils from them, aimed at.. well everybody, really - and plenty of shouting and chanting from us, and so they passed by, to be corralled finally in front of the Library (a building whos purpose needed explaining to them).

We then joined them in the routine chant battle, ours imaginitive, literal and rhyming, theirs limited to the usual 'E-E-EDL!' and the national anthem with the wrong words. In the end, at 3.00pm, they we're escorted away, we stayed, and 'Antifa' held the field. It was, as they say, London 3, EDL 0.

The best part was that Barking is no longer in fear of the EDL. The town, even the market, stayed open all day long, shopping crowds were very good, and the good people of Barking joined us in reviling these hate-filled drunks. Local cafes we're knocking out take-away coffees to us at a £1 a shot, chatting with us and wishing us well, even thanking us for our prescense. It was beautiful.

As was the mix of anti-racists and anti-fascists, as you can see from the images, from teenagers to elderly, of all colours and faiths.


In general (with one exception, of which more later) the event was also well policed. The senior officers involved ran good communications with the UAF leaders, and I had several long conversations with various officers, nearly all of whom (unofficially and off the record of course) stated quite clearly what they thought of the EDL, their thoughts pretty much matching our own.

One arrested
Anyone know him?
At one point, two EDL members (we think) infiltrated our 'ranks' and picked an argument with one of our ladies. We can't say for certain they were officially with the Nazis, but they were certainly drunk, abusive, and were hauled away quickly by the Police for a bit of a chat, then arrested (we think). Later we saw the two of them walking around in the 'no mans land' between the two front lines, so it's possible they might have been merely cautioned.

And to the single clash point of the day. Within our ranks were three (possibly four) young black guys, joining in our chanting. Later as they went to leave, they were subjected to an instant stop and search right next to where we were situated.

The reason, as explained by a senior officer, was that they were known to local police, who had decided that they had (unspecified) just cause to stop and search them. Whatever the rights and wrongs of that, the location chosen - right next to us - was provocative to say the least. Heated (non-violent) arguments broke out between protesters and police, who after a long while, let the lads go freely on their way. It was an unpleasant interlude in an otherwise peaceful day.

The senior officer, when I spoke to him later, stated that his officers were within the law. They probably were. Policing these kind of events requires a deft touch, but location and timing is critical. I and many others considered this episode badly handled, badly timed, and provocative.

In the end reports stated that 5 arrests were made, all EDL, and as we all dispersed, we reflected on one main impression of the day: Is that it? Is that all?

Is that all the EDL can muster now? Less than 100? I've had bigger birthday parties than that.

However the EDL try to spin it - and they will - this was a dismal turnout. And next time, there will be fewer, and fewer, until one day Tommy Robinson will be marching down a High Street somewhere, and he will look around to see that he's on his own.

Further report here from Hope Not Hate.

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*UPDATE*

Later on at 18:50 it was reported that the EDL clashed with locals and Police in Whitechapel. Obviously frustrated at their lack of success in Barking, they kicked off on the way home, with 'many arrests' made by Met Police riot officers.

Tesco was also attacked with people taking shelter in local shops. It is thought the group travelled from Barking on the underground, before turning violent in Whitechapel. Up to 15 police vans are at the scene.

Apparently, the local community are now out in Whitechapel defending the East London Mosque from being attacked this evening.