Perhaps we should just be happy that we’re allowed to demonstrate at all!
First, the Home Secretary prevented us from marching, and now we find that the EDL demonstration in Tower Hamlets this Saturday will face further complications.
Until very recently, we had agreed with the police that the muster point before the demonstration would be Hainault Underground Station. We would then have taken the tube to Liverpool Street Station, and from there we would have walked to Tower Hamlets.
What no one thought to consider was the possibility that the RMT (The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers) might get wind of our plans and threaten to close stations by calling on their members to go on strike.
We’re not sure that having to transport people to a demonstration is really a legitimate reason for industrial action, but the threat has been enough for the police to cave in to the pressure and abandon the previous plan. As a result, we’ve been left to make our own arrangements as far as the muster point is concerned.
Location details are as follows:
This applies to everyone, using any method of transport.
Please muster at the following public houses:
4 Caledonian Road
The Dun A Ri
19 Caledonian Road
2-4 Wharfdale Road
At 2pm we will make our way to the demo point so if you are not at one of the above you won’t be going.
Please do make sure you arrive in plenty of time, as we do not know what restrictions may be placed on travel shortly before the demonstration.
Please can we also ask that you bring your own refreshments, as although there are a few pubs in the area, it’s going to be difficult enough keeping everyone together.
Once we have gathered at the muster point we will then be escorted by police, in groups of 200-300, to Tower Hamlets and the site of the static demonstration.
However, we have today received a warning from the police that until we reach the demonstration site, we will not be allowed to raise our flags or banners, and that anyone doing so will be removed from the area.
It should go without saying that this is absolutely ridiculous, and we’re not certain that the police will actually enforce this rule on the day. As far as we understand it, the decision was made a senior officer in the Met, and is not well-supported by the police, who believe that it could turn the demonstration into a logistical nightmare.
But, until you hear otherwise from either a police officer or an EDL steward, please abide by these instructions. We are certainly not happy about this clear violation of our right to peaceful protest, but we would rather everyone reached the demonstration site than saw people ejected early on.
We understand that the police have received intelligence that there are small number of people in the Muslim community in Tower Hamlets who are already trying to incite violence, but surely the police effort should be focused on deterring would-be criminals rather than on restricting our right to protest?
Although the UAF have also been prevented from holding a march, they are thought to be holding a counter-demonstration nearby. From previous demonstrations we expect them to try and aggravate and provoke EDL supporters. Please can we remind everyone that any trouble would detract from the important reasons why we will be in Tower Hamlets.
There have been numerous newspaper articles recently that have been highly critical of the UAF – highlighting that their arrest figures are often far higher than ours, and rubbishing their claims that they are fighting ‘fascism’. This one deserves a special mention. If people are ever going to stop believing some of the baseless accusations spread by the UAF, then this support is crucial. Let’s not do anything to jeopardise it.
This demonstration was always going to come with conditions, but we are disappointed that senior figures in the Met seem to be more interested in playing politics than they are ensuring that the demonstration is a well-organised, peaceful affair.
We are also disappointed that the RMT is apparently so opposed to protests against the spread of radical Islam that it would instruct its members to strike in order to sabotage our plans. Despite this, we are looking forward to a successful demonstration.
But we wish to make it very clear now: if we are prevented from flying flags and displaying banners then we will return to Tower Hamlets on 22nd October.
We will have our demonstration, and our voices will be heard.