Tuesday’s We Are Waltham Forest meeting was a resounding success, with 130 members of the local community, black, white, and Asian, young and old, religious and non-religious, crowding into Harmony Hall.
Waltham Forest dean Steven Saxby was the first to address the meeting, emphasising the tradition of people from all parts of the Waltham Forest community working together to make the borough the kind of place in which we all want to live.
Zita Holbourne of the PCS union and the Black Activists Rising Against Cuts campaign talked about the link between the rise of fascism and the cuts, explaining that black people and poor people are disproportionately affected.
Martin Smith, the final platform speaker and assistant secretary of Unite Against Fascism talked about the growth of fascism in Europe. He described how the racism and fascism seen on the streets of Europe comes from the top, with European political leaders like Cameron, Merkel and Sarkozy attempting to make racism acceptable in the mainstream in a way that it has not been for a very long time.
Speakers from the floor included local anti-fascists, Waltham Forest councillors and members of the various religious communities, with all emphasising the importance of standing side by side against the fascists, regardless of any other differences of opinion we may have on politics or religion.
Older residents reminded those newer to the borough what happened the last time fascists tried to march in Waltham Forest, in 1978, when the National Front attempted to attack the Lea Bridge Road mosque. Local residents joined the muslim community and blocked the path of the NF, and fascists have not marched in this borough since that day.
Now, 34 years after the fascists were smashed in Waltham Forest, they are attempting to return. As residents of this borough, we all stand to lose if our rich history of opposing fascism is allowed to be reversed. That is why we will be on the streets on 18 August to show the EDL that Waltham Forest remains a no-go area for the far fight.