Monday, 2 March 2009

An Anti-Fascist day out in London, Part Two

This is a continuation of "An Anti-Fascist Action day out in London, Part One"

Part Two

So. You are in a packed District Line carriage on your way to Bow Road Station to meet a pubful of neo-Nazi skins... but at least you have about 150 like-minded anti-fascist activists for company.

There’s something strangely calming about such a situation, believe it or not. Maybe it’s the mob mentality at work (which you considered yourself immune to), or it is safety in numbers - but somehow when you look around and see the characters who are on your side, you feel confident. But then again, you haven’t seen the opposition yet.

Anyway, we reach our station and the doors open, and AFA’s concerned citizens pile out of the tube in fash-fighting form, up the stairs and on to the Bow Road, which leaves a one-hundred metre sprint to the Little Driver, and its Blood and Honour occupants.

As we reach the street we notice a small scouting party of fascist skins, who nearly jump out of their braces when they see what’s emerged from the tube station. This is no timid party of placard wavers – it is AFA (motto: Beating the Fascists). The fash take flight towards the Little Driver as fast as their 14-hole Doc Martens will carry them, which is quite fast with a load of baying anti-fascists in pursuit.

One runs past the side of the emerging AFA group, unspotted, and races for safety. A kick connects, but it’s only a glancing one. The chase continues, and one of the fash makes out to sprinkle something – possibly ammonia - in the direction of his pursuers as he flees, but it makes no difference… he and his friends are never going to make it to the Little Driver.

Incredibly, you actually feel a low-level sympathy for the fleeing fash as you gain on them, reflecting in a sped-up way on the imbalance of your group’s numerical superiority over the scouting party’s. But then you think of the racist attacks, the attacks on gays, and the attacks on lefties in your area, and your fleeting sympathy quickly evaporates… these fash are going to get it.

All of a sudden the Cavalry come to their rescue, as masses of coppers in riot gear, on foot and on horses, appear from a side road to the right. Members of your group are pulled down and arrested and riot police charge from parked vans further up the road to create a line between the advancing AFA stewards and the fascists HQ. You’d swear they were in it together.

Before the coppers get in position, some of the AFA group on the left side of the road get a brief glimpse of fash emerging from the pub and running in our direction - presumably under the dangerous misapprehension that we are the Anti-Nazi League. One is identified as Charlie Sargent, Chelsea Headhunter and CI8 leader (sentenced to life imprisonment in 1998 for murder of a fellow C18 member), who runs towards us – manboobs wobbling – until he does a double-take and he and his bonehead mates beat a swift retreat back to the pub. Another fash is seen diving into a police car for protection.

Even before our group is halted by the coppers, close to the pub, someone fires a flare which hits a railway bridge near the Little Driver, and the remaining fash scatter to safety. We try, but can’t get past the police ranks so the cry goes up: “Ian Stuart – better off dead!” for the benefit of the fash in the pub. Some of them are guided out by the police and give it the big one in our direction from the safety of their protectors (we don’t know where they are going).

We are pushed back down the road to the tube station forecourt, where we are corralled by the riot police - one of whom is trying to take photos of us as we pull our hoods up to make it more difficult. There is a nice moment as a woman passes by, and asks if we are the anti-fascists. Upon receiving the answer “yes”, she turns on the police and says “you should leave these alone and get that lot up there!” A roar of approval goes up, and the coppers shuffle around. One or two even look vaguely embarrassed.

After that, the Metropolitan Police commandeer a whole tube train exclusively for us, and whisk us away from East London. One thing you’ve got to give them - they are organised; years and years of practice at football matches has honed their responses, and they have it down to a fine art. The underground train takes us non-stop to Earl’s Court, in the west of the city, where we meet up in clusters in various pubs to discuss the day’s events so far.

There will be more skirmishes later that night as some of us head towards Waterloo Station, as reports come in of fash in the area. But nothing major happens, apart from a few fash stragglers who make the mistake of trying to enter our pub and end up getting a beating. Finally, the day’s activities end when the riot police arrive and escort us from the pub and out of the area, once again.

It’s been a long and weary day, but it has been a good one. Blood and Honour did not manage to organize their benefit gig, and it turns out to be their last attempt to pull such a stunt in London.

Result for AFA!

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Harald75 said...

Thanks for letting us be a little part of this day with your two posts, GM!

The Gombeen Man said...

Just thought I'd share the luurrve! Seriously though, it's something that I still think was worthwhile. Cheers, Harald.

Anonymous said...

Nice one mate. I was at Waterloo and various other evenst too. I missed the Little Driver though so thanks for the slightly more detailed commentary than appeared in Fighting Talk.

The Gombeen Man said...

Sure we may even have known each other - to see at least. As I say, some of the nicest people I've ever met - until presented with some fash, of course!!!