Saturday, 25 May 2013
The Glasgow Defence Campaign condemns this afternoon’s police attack on Newcastle Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! supporters for their role in opposing the racist English Defence League. We understand 12 anti racists have been arrested and are currently being detained in Etal Lane police station in Newcastle – 7 were arrested on the protest this afternoon with a further 5 detained following a house raid. We call on supporters to call the station to demand their release on - 0345 604 3043.
The arrests come on a day where up to 2,000 supporters of the EDL marched in Newcastle. Secretary for the Glasgow Defence Campaign, Paul McKenna stated, ‘We condemn today’s police action, the details of the arrests and actual charges remain sketchy at this stage, but we are concerned to hear reports that elements from the so called ‘Newcastle Unites’ coalition including leading members of Newcastle TUC, Newcastle Labour Party and the Socialist Workers Party worked in collusion with the police to enact what we believe to be targeted arrests of supporters of FRFI.’
In the weeks and days building towards the counter demonstration supporters of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! in Newcastle who have a sound record in opposing all forms of racism faced open hostility including violence and threats of arrest from those within the coalition of the left who sought to monopolise and control any resistance. The background to today’s events are explained below in an article published on the website of the Revolutionary Communist Group on 19 May:
FRFI supporters in Newcastle have been attempting for weeks to participate in the mobilisation against the EDL on 25 May, but have been met with violent and sectarian hostility from the organisers of Newcastle Unites. The figurehead of Newcastle Unites, Labour councillor Dipu Ahad, has now threatened to set the police on FRFI and other anti-fascists.
On 15 May Unite Against Fascism (UAF) North East sent a message inviting FRFI North East to support the demonstration. We replied confirming that we would attend and support the demonstration, and would encourage others to do so. Within an hour of accepting the invitation, Newcastle Unites emailed us:
UAF has forwarded us your recent email in which you say you will be attending Newcastle Unites demonstration against the EDL on the 25th May. It is really quite astounding that after your recent actions in exposing our meeting venue and placing our members at risk (an act for which you have shown no contrition) you consider that we would allow you on this demonstration. The organising group of Newcastle Unites discussed your behaviour at last night's meeting and agreed unanimously not to allow you to attend either the demonstration or the public meeting. If you choose to ignore our decision and do turn up you will not be welcome and we shall take all necessary steps to ensure that you play no part of these activities.
While Councillor Ahad has made it clear he wants no violent confrontation against the EDL, he is quite happy to mobilise his SWP and trade union goons to violently confront genuine anti-fascists. He stood by watching whilst SWP thug Yunus Bakhsh and trade union bureaucrat James Simpkin physically attacked a female comrade and made sexist comments when she tried to attend a Newcastle Unites organising meeting on 7 May (www.revolutionarycommunist.org/index.php/labourtrade-unions/3012-sw100513). But to avoid addressing this Newcastle Unitesis making spurious allegations that FRFI has put others at risk (we responded here:www.revolutionarycommunist.org/index.php/labourtrade-unions/3013-rn0150513). And we repeat: Councillor Ahad has inflicted real violence against the working class ofNewcastle by voting for £100 million cuts.
Now in a Facebook posting Ahad has warned FRFI and other committed anti-fascists that should they attempt to join the anti-EDL rally, ‘I assure you that you will be thrown out of the demo and the public meeting by our stewards who will be many. You will also be reported to the police for causing disorder!’Commenting on a counter-protest to the EDL in March, Ahad wrote ‘The Police did a fantastic job...I’m also concerned with about some of our Asian youths who get excited and also want to cause trouble for the sake of it and have no respect for the police!’. What he is admitting is that Asian youth will not listen to him – and why should they given his support for the cuts and his membership of the racist and imperialist Labour Party? They know what he is: a ruthless henchman of the ruling class. But he is isolated, and that is why he needs the likes of Bakhsh and Simpkinto defend him, and if they are not enough, the police.
Regardless of the sectarian and violent behaviour of these individuals, FRFI urges everyone to stand against the EDL on 25 May. As we have always argued the EDL can only be opposed effectively as part of a wider struggle against racism, which is inseparable from the fight against imperialism. No amount of threats from Newcastle Unites or anybody else will convince us to abandon this struggle.