Thursday, May 30, 2013

Details of Saturday's anti-BNP Protests [updated Friday lunchtime]

Update Friday 31 May, 13:15 pm - the latest position is as follows:

- The BNP have now been banned by the Metropolitan Police from marching to Woolwich to Lewisham and told they can only march in Whitehall;
- Having initially said that they would defy the ban, the BNP has now agreed to switch its demo to Downing Street.
- Unite Against Fascism has therefore cancelled its protest in Woolwich and is calling for people to come to Downing Street at 12 noon tomorrow to oppose BNP there.
- South London Anti-Fascists will be meeting tomorrow at 11 am at the Imperial War Museum Gardens (Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park), near the Russian memorial, and then travelling en bloc to Downing Street.
- according to South London Anti-Fascists the rally at Lewisham Islamic Centre has also been cancelled.

Events at the weekend remain unpredictable, to keep up date I would keep an eye on twitter - including @southlondonAF, @uaf and @MPDNUT

The following post was written on the morning of Thursday 30 May before news of the police ban was announced:

Plans are firming up to respond to the planned British National Party march from Woolwich to Lewisham on Saturday June 1st. Or to be more precise what the BNP are now calling a 'march and motorcade'. I thought the effort of the walk from Woolwich to Lewisham might be a bit much for them,  I suspect that they may  stage some kind of demonstration in Woolwich and then travel by coaches/cars to somewhere near Lewisham and then try and march towards the Lewisham Islamic Centre.

The BNP have announced that they plan to assemble at 1300 at the junction between Woolwich New Road and Gunner Lane,SE18 6XN opposite the Barracks

Unite Against Fascism have called for people to meet in Woolwich from 12 noon in General Gordon Square (next to Woolwich Arsenal DLR/Rail station). They say: 'The BNP has called a national demonstration in Woolwich this Saturday, 1 June. Fascists and racists are trying to take advantage of the terrible murder of Lee Rigby to whip up racism and hatred for their own anti-democratic ends. We call on everyone to join with Unite Against Fascism, local trade unionists, faith groups and community groups in a peaceful show of unity against the BNP and its Islamophobic poison. We will not let them divide us'

Ideally the BNP would be stopped in Woolwich, but it's likely that under heavy police protection they will then head on to Lewisham, presumably round the south circular/A205. In Lewisham the main focus for opposing the BNP will be a rally at 2 pm outside the Islamic Centre at 365 Lewisham High Street (by the Shell Garage near to Lewisham Hospital). The Lewisham National Union of Teachers call out says: 'No to terrorism, no to racism... The horrific murder of a young soldier in Woolwich has rightly been met with overwhelming condemnation. However, now the British National Party (BNP) are trying to use the understandable outrage at this attack to gain support. On Saturday afternoon, they are planning to march on the Islamic Centre in Lewisham. Lewisham has a proud record of standing united against all those who would divide our community. Join the protest to show the BNP that the trade unions, residents and young people of Lewisham are standing united against this provocative march'.

South London Anti-Fascists and others will be gathering by the Islamic Centre from 1 pm onwards to guard against any early arrivals. While the Islamic Centre is naturally going to be a focus, it seems unlikely that the police will let the BNP get too close to it on Saturday - a rally nearby looks the most obvious ending to their protest (Lewisham Park opposite the hospital is the nearest open space so is one possibility). Clearly it is intolerable for several hundred (?) open racists to be wandering around Woolwich or Lewisham, and we don't want groups of them trying to head in to Lewisham town centre or Catford at the end.
I note that South London Anti-Fascists have used a photograph from 'the Battle of Lewisham' in 1977, when the BNP's predecessors the National Front marched from New Cross to Lewisham amidst riotous scenes - see a detailed report of that day here.

The National Front also marched in Lewisham, from Forest Hill to Catford, in April 1980. 72 people were arrested, most of them anti-fascists (see earlier post about this)


Peter said...

NUT leaflet is not what was agreed at last night's meeting at the mosque. We are encouraging Lewisham people to go to Woolwich for 12 with a small number of designated people at the Lewisham Islamic Centre. People have been asked to go to the rally in Lewisham for 2pm. BNP are not planning to leave Woolwich until 3pm and we have to be flexible. We don't want a load of people in Lewisham with the main event happening in Woolwich. This is what was agreed.

Anonymous said...

Don't let the Islamists divide our communities, more like! Wake up!

. said...

I am aware that there was a meeting at Lewisham Islamic Centre with representatives of a number of anti-fascist groups, and that there are mixed views about how to approach the issue of whether everyone should go to Woolwich or not (I believe the UAF view is that they should). I agree that people will need to be flexible, it will be important that there is a significant presence in both places.

Obviously there is also a risk that if everyone goes to Woolwich, they might end up stuck there (e.g. kettled). The NUT leaflet was issued late last night, and I gather that South London Anti-Fascists have also agreed that they will definitely have a presence in Lewisham from early on. So people reading this can be reassured that there will definitely be people meeting up in both Woolwich and Lewisham at the times stated in this post.

It is clear however that several organisations

Anonymous said...

Let them come to the Islamic Centre. There are plenty of people there who are trained in looking after themselves :-)