Saturday, June 17, 2023

'No Nazis in East Street' (1979)

A feature of London political life in the  last decades of the 20th century was the regular street presence of racist and neo-nazi groups like the National Front and British National Party - in particular through their paper sales at places like Chapel Market, Lewisham town centre, East Street market (off Walworth Road SE17) and Brick Lane. It took years of militant anti-fascist organising from the 1970s onwards to drive them away, with Brick Lane continuing to be a flashpoint until well into the 1990s.

  This article 'No nazis in East Street' is from the SE1 community newspaper, April 1979 and features a call from Southwark Campaign Against Racialism and Fascism to oppose the National Front presence there on Sunday mornings.

This picture of a 1979 SCARF protest in East Street is featured in an excellent round up of anti-racist demonstrations at Southwark Heritage blog

According to Sean Birchall in his book  'Beating the Fascists: The Untold Story of Anti-Fascist Action', the National Front paper sellers finally gave up the ghost after they were ambushed by members of Red Action in the early 1980s 'the fascist presence in East Street Market  in south London was irrevocably extinguished when, without warning or fanfare, the paper sellers were overwhelmed in less than five minutes of mayhem...  As the fascists fled, a heavy glass  door in a shoe shop snapped in two as they surged through seeking refuge. Some hope. They were pursued into a storeroom, while others, trapped among the displays, had a no-tolerance message literally hammered into their heads by stiletto-shoe-wielding opponents. So stunning had been the anti-fascist victory neither the NF nor BM ever returned' (though the successor BNP was back at East Street for a while in the early 1990s).

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