Around ten thousand people participated in the Stand Up to Racism & Fascism demonstration on Saturday 22 March 2014. The event coincided with UN Anti-Racism Day and was part of an international day of action with demonstrations taking place across the globe from New York, Athens to Sao Paulo.
The demonstration was vibrant, positive, diverse and lively with a range of different communities including EU migrants from Romania, Bulgaria and Poland to Roma, Gypsy, Kurdish, Muslim, Christian and other faith communities joining trade unions, anti-racist, anti-fascist and social movements. The event was a magnificent display of Britain’s diversity, multiculturalism and unity against racism and hatred.
Free Nelson Mandela song writer Jerry Dammers included powerful anti-racist messages rebutting myths on immigration in between songs. Other artists included Jamie Joseph, Ghetts and MTV’s George the Poet who wrote a poem opposing the Government’s “Go home” vans.
Speakers at the event included Diane Abbott MP who said: “We are here today to say to the Leaders of all the parties, Conservative, Lib-Democrats and Labour, ‘no to racism and fascism’. We want the political parties to say ‘no to anti-immigrant politics’. We don’t want gutter politics in the run up to the election this May. It is not immigrants that cause low wages, exploitative employers cause low wages. It is not immigrants that are a drain on the NHS, without immigrants we would not have an NHS.”
Mohammad Taj , TUC President said: “I am an internationalist and I welcome all workers to Europe. What we have is free movement of capital, but workers cannot move around because they are Black or Asian or they are Bulgarians. I reject that totally. The European elections are coming up in May, vote for who you choose, but do not vote for UKIP. I want to pay tribute to two friends we have lost. We need more Bob Crows and Tony Benns to inspire us all.”
Natalie Bennett , Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales said: “I am an immigrant, but oddly enough I’m the sort of immigrant you do not hear Nigel Farage complain about very much…Nigel Farage says all sorts of untrue unfair dishonest things about immigrants and is largely not challenged. Overall, the three largest parties are not saying ‘stand up against racism’ and what they are doing is chasing after Nigel Farage when what they should be doing is challenging him.”
Tommy Tomescu of Alliance Against Romanian and Bulgarian Discrimination said: “As the economy has worsened the rhetoric has increased against East Europeans and other immigrants. False claims are made that Central and East European migrants are benefit abusers, when the truth is they contribute more than non-migrants. No one challenges these false stories, which have led to violence, with people and their homes being attacked. We must oppose the vicious campaigns of Nigel Farage, the Daily Mail and David Cameron against East Europeans. We must stop the discrimination.”
Relatives of black men murdered in police custody including Mark Duggan’s Aunt Carol Duggan, Christopher Alder’s sister Janet Alder and Sean Rigg’s sister Marcia Riggspoke out against the failure to bring to justice those responsible for the killing of their loved ones.
Maz Saleem, daughter of Mohammed Saleem who was murdered by a Ukrainian fascist last year spoke of how Pavlo Lapshyn was serving 40 years in prison under the Terrorism Act for her father’s murder and three terror attacks on Mosques, but the media and politicians did not treat him like other terrorists.
Other speakers included Maurice Wren Refugee Council Chief Executive, Edie Friedman from the Jewish Council for Racial Equality and many more.
For more coverage and pictures of the event see twitter feeds: @antiracismday and @uaf
More photos here.