- Category: Campaigns
- Published on Monday, 30 June 2014
- Written by IS Network comrades
A group of about 200 anti-fascists gathered in Markfield Park in Tottenham, on Saturday, in response to an attack on a free music festival by a group of about 40 Polish neo Nazis called Zjednoczeni Emigranci (which supposedly *ironically* translates to United Emigrants) the previous week in the same spot. A young Polish man was stabbed by a neo-Nazi and had to go to hospital. The protest was called for by UAF, to reclaim the park for the local multi-cultural community of Tottenham.
The gathering was mostly made up of the usual crowd on the left. Some people were put off attending the protest, because it was rumoured that a group of neo-Nazis were going to show up and mingle in the crowd. The groups in attendance were London Black Revolutionaries, London Antifascists / Anti-Fascist Network (AFN), SWP, SP, rs21, Workers Power, IS Network and a group of Polish anti-fascists called Dywizjon 161, whose presence was clearly of particular importance.
AFN mobilised well and there were a number of young women amongst them. We all used the wet and dreary event to catch up with each other and I used it as an excuse to get to know our London comrades, and quickly lost interest in the speakers pouring in to the megaphone, which was really difficult to hear in our spacious gatherings.
After a fairly quiet and uneventful period of chatter and leaflet distribution, a group of young anarchist men shot past us and headed for the corner of the park, where a small group of police were gathered and another smaller number of police tried to prevent them from reaching the other side of the park by tackling them, or at least trying to, on route. We never heard whether any neo Nazis turned up but the group returned soon after. However, it has been reported that a lone fascist turned up to take photos of the protest.
In the playground nearby, a local man in traditional Jewish dress was pushing his children on the swings and there were a diverse mix of people from different backgrounds going about their daily routine on the high street and it would have been great if we could have got the local community and local campaign groups involved, but with very little in the way of building anti-fascist mobilisations within communities, it is to be expected that small leftie gatherings will fill that void for now.
The anti-fascist flyer for the IS Network meeting, at ULU on the 2nd August, was distributed by a few comrades on the day and went down pretty well and I also managed to convince a few comrades to come along on the day.
It was at least two-thirds black bloc type people which to be honest was a weakness that was typified by one dude being chased across a park by a hundred people, most of whom didn't know why they were chasing him. It seemed to portray a lack of purpose and lack of discipline. The march, which took around two thirds of the demo out of the park and down the road to Seven Sisters, seemed pointless at best and counter-productive at worst. UAF seemed to have done a big postering job in the run-up, promising a sort of family festival which they were completely unable to deliver. All they had were a marquee and a speaker with an iPod attached. To be fair to them though, they were playing catch-up and only had a couple of days to pull it together, as I understand the original call out for Saturday was from Dywisjon 161, London Antifascists et al.
In terms of community turn out, it’s worth mentioning the fact that the police had set up cordons at all the entrances to the park asking everyone going in if they were going to be violent and, seemingly, turning park users away. They were also hassling people on the demo, mostly the crusties and punks, which wouldn’t have looked inviting to anyone. I don't think many local families would have heard of fascist threats against the demo, as it didn't seem many had heard about the demo at all.
I worry that the political questions will be completely lost in what could become the escalating logic of a turf war that the anarchists are entirely unable to wage. How can we help bring about a political response which unites community groups and links them with antifascists?
I think coming to a family demo in a park in black bloc gear is dumb and counter-productive to the interests of these individuals and the movement. I mean I understand that black bloc had a strategic origin that made a kind of sense in the context of the anti-capitalist movement but I really can't understand how it made any sense on Saturday other than as a reflex response or a subcultural statement. It's true that if there was effective, rooted local organisation they should have been a small minority rather than a clear majority but counter-factuals aren't going to help us now.