The English Defence League planned a return visit to Walthamstow yesterday, but a Home Office ban on marches there (and in three other London boroughs) prevented the EDL from demonstrating.
Unite Against Fascism, however, did not feel constrained by the ban, and showed up to stage their counter-protest as a “victory rally”. The authorities did not obstruct their event, and the UAF had the run of the place for the afternoon.
Esmerelda Weatherwax was in Walthamstow yesterday, and posted a photo-essay on the day’s events at the New English Review:
Whatever happened to Free Speech?
Cf UAF in Walthamstow and EDL in Westminster
by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Readers will remember the appalling way the EDL were treated while exercising our democratic freedom to meet and protest in Walthamstow last month. Today [Saturday October 27] was set as the return to Walthamstow.
However last week Tommy Robinson and 53 men were arrested on the outskirts of London. Kev Carroll was arrested in Luton. Tommy Robinson remains in custody until after Christmas on charges concerning irregularities to the passport he used to visit the US for the commemoration of 11/9 last month. The other men are charged with conspiracy to cause a breach of the peace and allowed bail, on condition they do not enter East London. Paul Weston, leader of the British Freedom Party who was arrested for potentially causing a breach of the peace wile attempting to visit Tommy in prison has been released without charge.
Next the Home Secretary Teresa May set a ban on all marches in four London boroughs for 30 days. Those boroughs were Waltham Forest, in order to prevent today’s proposed march, Islington, just in case anyone approached the Finsbury Park Mosque, Tower Hamlets, lest anyone contemplate a demonstration at the East London Mosque, and Newham (site of the proposed Megagmosque). According to the notice on WalthamForest’s website this order prevented ALL marches, except funeral processions and those commonly or customarily held in the area, which would cover something like the local Scouts annual St George’s Day parade. The Home Secretary does not have power to ban static demonstrations. However the Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police issued an order under S14 of the Public Order Act 1986 banning any EDL event in London, other than a permitted rally outside the Houses of Parliament between 1pm and 2pm. One hour only, only in that spot.
The UAF and their subsidiary organisation We Are Waltham Forest decided not to cancel their demo but to hold it as a “Victory Rally” As a former resident of Walthamstow who retains family connections I always had business there this weekend and decided I would lawfully go about it this morning. There was a strong police presence at all the transport hubs and railway stations. At Walthamstow Central Station UAF stewards were exhibiting their banners and attempting to sell their newspapers.
The Waltham Forest Guardian confirms that the march ban was defied. On the UAF website yesterday, declaring today’s event the “Victory Rally” Martin Smith said that the leftists were to ignore the ‘impossible to impose’ ban on marching. The list of speakers is here. Creasy is confirmed as speaking along with the rest of the usual subjects.
I can understand the legal difference whereby a S14 order can be imposed by the police on one event, but not another. It is discrimination, as my mother used to put it ‘making fish of one and fowl of the other’. It is objectionable. I think it was wrong. But I understand the law behind it.
I do not understand elected representatives and the Metropolitan Police facilitating a political march in the face of a ban on all marches in that borough put in place by the Home Secretary, while banning the march of another political group.
This is a breach of our right to free speech, free protest and free movement. This confirms the corruption in high places and that the traitors in authority will brook no dissent, allow no challenge. Now we truly know where we stand.
For the rest of the story and numerous photographs, see the New English Review.