Liverpool lived up to its historic record as being one of the most unfriendly places for the extreme right to visit when the English Defence League tried to hold a march on Saturday 3 June.
For the EDL it was an unmitigated disaster. Just 60 supporters scraped up from gutters nationwide turned out, supported by a handful of local Ulster Volunteer Force heavies.
Only days before their arrival in Liverpool two attempted outrages had occurred in Manchester involving Stephen Lennon, aka Tommy Robinson, the former leader of the EDL, and the EDL itself. As the people of Manchester and beyond mourned the victims of the ISIS inspired massacre of families attending a concert in their city, and a main square was filled with thousands of wreaths and tokens of their grief, Lennon arrived with his new employer, the Alt-Right US/Canadian video team Rebel, to pour oil on troubled waters, a regular activity of theirs these days. Then a small number of thugs turned up chanting “EDL, EDL”. Both these disgusting provocations were swiftly halted by the hundreds of mourners and the police.
By their actions, these far-right extremists in Manchester and Liverpool were advancing the dirty work of the ISIS supporting terrorists by trying to provoke hate and community tension, where communities were building unity and peace in the face of hate-filled terrorism. The EDL cannot be allowed to threaten democratic society unhindered.
We salute those who stood up to the tragic loss of life in Manchester and London and are not allowing these monsters to undermine us as a united society, despite the deadly assaults on our democracy by political and religious extremists.
Our correspondent reports that the police and community in Liverpool were well prepared for the EDL’s visit. From around 9am there was a significant police presence in and around Liverpool Lime Street which built up as the day progressed. From around 11am groups of Antifa (wearing black) and other counter-protesters carrying flags/banners were increasingly visible in and around Lime Street Station where Merseyside Unite Against Fascism (UAF) was setting up its counter protest on the steps of the station.
It became clear that the police had designated the station steps as the only legitimate area where a counter protest could take place. They began insisting that anyone they could identify as a counter-protester move onto the station steps or face arrest. Many were forced to do so, but for the police it was an ongoing problem as people moved on and off the station steps. It became clear that the police intended to kettle the counter-protesters on the steps of Lime Street Station.
There were also lots of people hanging around who could not so easily be identified as counter-protesters and so continued to move around freely.
The EDL were drinking in the Lord Warden pub and this became a focal point for a small but very lively protest, which grew in size as the morning progressed. The EDL were effectively hemmed into the pub area by police and protesters.
Around 1pm the police prepared to escort the EDL to their assembly point outside Lime Street Station. Protesters blocked the route and the police were force to take the EDL down a side street, again followed by jeering and heckling counter protesters. Access to this route was finally blocked by police, and what were now hundreds of counter-protesters ran back to Lime Street.
On arrival back at Lime Street the EDL were at first nowhere to be seen and the counter-protesters on the steps were urged to get off the steps and on to the streets, which most did.
The EDL flanked by police finally emerged from a side street and were immediately surrounded. The police had to force them through at every step.
The Police finally managed to get the EDL to their assembly point outside Lime Street station from where they were supposed to march to Liverpool docks. By this stage they were surrounded and the police could do no more than protect them.
After the police and EDL had inched their way some thirty metres across the road they were surrounded on all sides and the road was blocked by a sit-down protest, so the EDL were held there. This stand-off lasted at least half an hour.
Unable to make headway the march was abandoned and the EDL were escorted back to the railway station surrounded by around 1,000 jeering counter-protesters and being bombarded with eggs, water, horse manure, smoke canisters, sticks and fists.
The last that was heard was that they were forced to give their brief speeches on platform 1 of Lime Street station.
The protest was made up of organised anti-fascist groups, trade unions, community groups and others. Merseyside UAF’s protest was supported by seven regional trade unions – CWU, FBU, GMB, NUT, PCS, Unison and
Unite – over 25 local councillors, Show Racism the Red Card, and several prominent local individuals, including the Deputy Mayor of Liverpool Ann O’Byrne; Julie Ward MEP; Lynn Collins, Regional Secretary of North West TUC; Martin Cavanagh of PCS; Tony Kearns, acting General Secretary of the CWU; writer Alan Gibbons; and Mark Rowe, local Regional Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union.
The Liverpool anti-fascist movement would like to thank the mounted police officers for supplying them with a good amount of dung with which to pelt the retreating Nazis.
All photos by KSW
The EDL has announced a march in London on 17 June. It will be opposed.