The Democratic Football Lads Alliance, a split from the Football Lads Alliance, have called a demonstration in Manchester on Saturday 2 June to protest against the remand in custody of Tommy Robinson, founder of the English Defence League, Unite Against Fascism writes. The DFLA also want to exploit the recent anniversary of the Arena bombings, and stir up hatred and bigotry. Up to 4,000 people marched with the DFLA and Robinson in London recently, including leading figures in the UK Independence Party (UKIP), and a section of that protest tried to physically attack anti-racist protesters. (more on the arrest of Tommy Robinson on 25 May is below).
The demonstration comes two weeks after the FLA had what was clearly a humbling demonstration for them in Manchester, last Saturday.
We need to ensure a big anti-racist turnout on 2 June to counter the far-right and oppose racism and Islamophobia. To read more about the DFLA see the UAF report here.
The event page for the joint Stand Up To Racism and UAF counter demonstration is here.
The DFLA are heavily promoting Tommy Robinson, who was arrested in Leeds on Friday, for a ‘breach of the peace’. Robinson was at the court in a livestream on Facebook, where he claimed to be “reporting” on the case. He of course is not a journalist, in any way.
After more than an hour of streaming, police arrested him for alleged breach of the peace and incitement. Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, said that verdicts were due on Friday but court staff confirmed that the trial of nine defendants is ongoing.
Robinson is already under a suspended sentence for contempt of court regarding a gang rape case heard in Canterbury last year. The judge handed him a three month prison term in May last year but suspended it for 18 months on the proviso he did not commit further offences. It appears that Robinson has been given a 13 month sentence for contempt of court and taken to Hull prison.
The far right took to the internet in various forums and ludicrously claimed Robinson was a victim of the ‘crackdown’ on free speech. Open fascist groups and both the FLA and DFLA called for marches to ‘free’ Robinson. In Leeds last night, DFLA members gathered near the court to declare Robinson a political prisoner and call for an end to the so-called injustice.
In Whitehall, central London, several hundred Robinson backers held a short rally and protest on Saturday. Some sat in the road, among them UKIP, andFor Britain members, and fascists from the National Front and Britain First. They had earlier heard from one organiser who insultingly read out Pastor Niemoller’s “First they came …” poem, written about the Nazis’ rise to power in the 1930s. The fascists there mocked the poem being read out.
Another speaker, thought to be from UKIP, said Robinson was the new ‘Nelson Mandela’!? Some football firms were present including Arsenal’s The Herd and Chelsea Headhunters, among them known ex-Combat 18 thugs. Bizarre conspiracy theories were bandied about, eg that Theresa May had personally sought Robinson’s arrest.
The mood was ugly from the start. NUJ members were targeted by some whist a biker openly gave Nazi salutes before being asked to stop by Robinson backers ‘in case of the media’. The event was organised at less than a day’s notice. One far-right figure was able to climb on the gates of Downing Street for a time. Whitehall was blocked for a period while Robinson’s name was bellowed by many who were also drinking heavily.
The sitdown ended relatively soon and many either returned to pubs or gathered at Parliament Square. Robinson’s backers are unsurprisingly appealing for funds for him. Tuesday may see Robinson released from his latest incarceration, but this is not clear.
Robinson’s status as a lynchpin of the far right is clear from the frenzied reaction to his latest flouting of the law. As UAF reported last week, a northeast-based businessman is rumoured to be financing an open bus top tour by Robinson. It remains to be seen what will come of this, now.
Robinson’s racism has long been evident from his days in the BNP, to his founding of the EDL and other projects such as Pegida UK, all of which have been successfully thwarted by anti-fascist campaigning and Robinson’s own hubris. Various far-right factions such as the DFLA want Robinson to ‘unite the right’. Robinson though is keeping his options open and his own arrogance, as seen in Leeds, may yet curtail his longterm aims.
One way in which to push back the likes of Robinson and his backers is to be in Manchester on 2 June. The anti-racist demo has again attracted broad and diverse trade union and community support. It’s crucial that anti-fascists and anti-racists mobilise for this day.