On Saturday 17 November, thousands of people marched from the BBC headquarters to Parliament Square, denouncing the rise of the far right around the world. The march was organised by Stand Up To Racism as a “national unity demonstration against racism and fascism”. The Canary attended the anti-fascist protest and caught up with some of the different groups and individuals along the way.
In solidarity against fascism
John Gray, a local councillor from Newham, told The Canary he’s a member of West Ham Labour Party and he came:
to support the fight against fascism.
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He also explained:
West Ham is the home of the Labour Party. The first ever Labour Party MP Keir Hardie was elected MP for West Ham South in 1892. It’s a solid Labour Party area… All 60 councillors are Labour. Both MPs are Labour and the London Assembly are Labour.
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Anti-fascist solidarity from Brazil
The Canary also spoke to Brazilian people living in London. They held banners, placards, and beat drums. Many held ‘Free Lula’ placards, referring to former Brazilian president and political prisoner Luiz Inácio ‘Lula’ da Silva. Lula, who was ahead by a large margin in election opinion polls, was prosecuted under what many considered to be trumped-up charges. The process of using ‘legal’ means to neutralise (mostly) centre-left political figures is known as ‘lawfare’.
Nara, who is Brazilian but lives in London, told The Canary that the latest election in Brazil ‘wasn’t really free’. This is not only due to Lula’s imprisonment preventing him from running but also because of the ‘soft coup’ against former Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff. Rousseff was impeached for an act that was then retroactively legalised as soon as she was removed by the right-wing-dominated congress. In October, Jair Bolsonaro won the election. According to Nara, Bolsonaro is a “fascist”. Nara told The Canary that this is the reason she came; to show her solidarity, and those of Brazilians, with people here.
Solidarity with Palestine
Among the many stands was one calling out the ‘racist state of Israel’.
Toby, from Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!, told The Canary that the Labour Party had essentially betrayed the Palestinian people by bulling groups into accepting the full list of the ‘examples of antisemitism’ outlined by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.
He said that they are campaigning against local councils adopting the full list of IHRA examples of antisemitism. He said that, all over London, the Leaders’ Committee was instructing local councils to adopt the full IHRA examples, which means those labelling Zionism as racism would themselves now be labelled antisemites. The Canary previously reported how many diverse groups opposed the IHRA examples as essentially ‘erasing’ Palestinian history.
Toby explained that:
The Leaders’ Committee is instructing the Labour councils to use this as part of their disciplinary procedures for councillors. So this will mean that councillors and council staff will no longer be able to criticise the racist nature of the Israeli state.
At the very front and very back of the march, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) were filming peaceful protestors. They were also filming to the right and the left of the march.
The surveillance van at the front of the demo was marked:
Interserve – Special Events Services Working In Partnership with the Metropolitan Police.
Why are the Met police filming an anti fascist demo, as well as anyone else in view?
— M. A. E. (@MElmaazi) November 17, 2018
This would appear to be an example of surveillance capitalism in action. Surveillance capitalism is the name given to the intertwining of the surveillance state and the capitalist system.
A demonstrator from Suffolk told The Canary that:
Unfortunately, we live in a surveillance state now. And this appears to be part of the outsourcing of public services to the private sector.
The Canary asked many individuals if they’d heard of Interserve, but none had. But they all lamented the ‘inevitability’ of state surveillance of peaceful protestors.
Stand up and be counted
For the people on the march, there was no question that it was important that they demonstrate “against racism and fascism”.
— M. A. E. (@MElmaazi) November 17, 2018
The significance of such a wide variety of individuals and groups uniting to send a strong message of anti-racism should not be underestimated. Historically, fascism has been able to flourish when afforded an uncontested public space, during periods of grave economic decline. It’s no wonder then that among the various chants was “Whose streets? Our streets!”.
– Support independent journalism at The Canary.
– Watch Jaisal Noor’s coverage of the demo for The Real News Network.
– Join the upcoming demonstration on International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women, Sunday 25 November 2018.
Featured image via Mohamed Elmaazi
All images and videos in this article were supplied by Mohamed Elmaazi
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