EDL march in Bristol: anti-fascist protesters' view
Martin Upchurch of We Are Bristol - the counter-EDL protest group - tells ThisisBristol what he made of yesterday's events.
When the English Defence League (EDL) announced their plans to come to Bristol we should not have been surprised.
Far right and fascist groups always try and recruit when economic times are tough.
We've been in a recession for 5 years, the longest one since the 1930s.
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In the 30s the Mosleyite fascists sought to scapegoat Jewish people for the crisis in order to shift the blame away from the financiers and speculators.
This time round the EDL use so-called Islamification as an excuse.
In its wake they leave a stream of hatred and racial bigotry, and attempt to spread their message by strutting arrogantly through our towns and cities.
Of course, in an increasingly diverse, creative and innovative city such as ours this was always going to be a hard message for the EDL to deliver.
But we should not underestimate the damage that can be done.
In the 1930s the fascist leader Oswald Mosley spoke to a rally of 2000 in the city, and sent solidarity delegations to one of Mussolini's ships flying the fascist flag while docked in Bristol.
Ordinary Bristolians at the time gathered forces and pushed back the fascists by a united campaign.
That's why We Are Bristol was formed as a loose umbrella organisation to galvanise as many Bristolians as possible to publicly oppose the EDL.
Trade unions, community groups, LGBT organisations and ordinary citizens all came together to voice our opposition in public statements, leafleting, public meetings and finally our 1,200 strong counter demonstration yesterday.
We were well aware of different arguments about how the EDL should be opposed.
Some said we should ignore them, but we know that if you do that they will be back again, bigger and more threatening.
Others called for the council and police to ban them.
Possibly an understandable reaction, although one that could never work.
A ban would only be on the EDL marching, and not on them holding a static demonstration.
They could still meet in a backstreet car park and claim 'victory'.
Any ban would also be applied across the whole city, meaning that the Pride procession would have been banned as well.
Far better to remain in the strong tradition of fighting fascism in this country, by mobilising as many people as possible to oppose them on the streets, to have bigger numbers and to isolate the EDL.
This is what happened in Cable Street in 1936 and in the 1970s when the Anti Nazi League took on the National Front.
On the day, our numbers at the counter demonstration and along the side of the EDL’s route around the cobbled streets of Welsh Back, numbered two to three thousand.
We Are Bristol marched in solidarity to the Pride festival at College Green, reinforcing our message of diversity.
The EDL, bussed into the city from afar, could only muster 250.
The people of Bristol gave a clear message to the EDL that they are not welcome here, and our streets and communities are safer as a result.
We Are Bristol