Antifascist Action Edinburgh statement on the Pride Five arrests!


The following statement was originally posted to Facebook to address the shocking complicity of Glasgow Pride in the arrests of five queer, trans and antifascist activists at the Glasgow Pride parade on the 21st of August. It was subsequently been removed by Facebook after the post was reported, no doubt by directly of by those sympathetic to Glasgow Pride organisers. Radical voices within queer movements cannot and should not be silenced, so please find below the statement in full.

The continuing crank-wheel of commercialisation and police co-option of Prides across the world was seen, felt and heard at Glasgow Pride on Saturday. Members of the queer & trans antifa community displaying a ‘These faggots fight fascists’ banner were arrested on trumped up charges of homophobic aggravated breach of the peace. This was a disgusting move from the police, who arrested queer people at a queer march with a queer banner whilst at the same march ignoring genuine homophobic hate preachers on a street corner nearby. Protecting homophobic fascists whilst brutalising queer antifascists is emblematic of the behaviour of police Scotland who have more in common with the far right than with liberation movements.

Queer people being attacked by the police with the complicity of corporate friendly pride organisers is an absolute outrage. Rather than stand by their queer siblings, Glasgow pride instead chose to condemn the victims of police repression and side with the police via a grotesque public statement that represented only their own cowardly interests and not those of the queer & trans community at large. It comes as no surprise that those with financial motivations have little to nothing in common with those whom they claim to represent.

Those who have more in common with police than with LGBTQAI+ demonstrators fighting for their rights and against the fascist menace have no place running anything in the name of queer liberation, much less a pride march.

Pride has it’s origins in the Stonewall riots, which manifested the anger at police attacks on non-cis, non-hetero, non-white communities and as such is no place for police or corporate interests who only seek to legitimise themselves with a queer friendly face at pride events for their own selfish reasons.

Welcoming police endangers the safety of participants as was clearly demonstrated on Saturday, when police spinelessly attacked those standing up for their own freedom. Liberation must be intersectional and there can be no queer struggle without struggle against state repression, capitalism and the rise of an emboldened and violently homophobic fascism which the police facilitate the world over.

Edinburgh Antifa stands with the 5 activists arrested on Saturday (the Pride5) and all victims of state, fascist and corporate violence. We will be making our views heard and standing by our queer siblings at the Glasgow sheriff court on Monday morning, where those arrested are due to appear. We call on all antifascists to stand stand by queer comrades in their struggle for liberation!

Edinburgh Antifa at Liverpool Demo: Reportback

The following is a collboratively written “report back” on the June 3rd Liverpool anti-EDL demonstration, as narrated by various member of Edinburgh Antifascist Action.

The “English Defence League” are a far-right nationalist group with strong nazi affiliations and several known neo-Nazi members. Much like similar groups operating in the 2000’s (The BNP etc), the EDL use strongly nationalistic, racialized narratives to point the finger of blame at the most vulnerable and marginalised in society, including immigrants, non-whites, women and the LGBTQ+ community. No doubt seeking to capitalise on the recent attacks, the EDL organised an “anti-terror”demonstration in Liverpool on June 3rd. We at Edinburgh Antifascist Action, along with antifascist and anti-racist groups around the country, organised to resist and block their proposed march which was planned to go through Liverpool city center.

When we got to Liverpool, we joined a number of other antifascist groups, including the Red Front Republic, Mersyside antifascists and other local antifascists in occupying the steps that the EDL march was planned to begin at. There were an encouraging number of protesters in position well in advance of the arrival of the fascists. There was also a disturbingly large, militarised police presence, including a helicopter and several mounted police, as well as fully equipped riot police and vans, several hours before the demo was even scheduled to begin. It was immediately clear that the police were fully intent on violently protecting the fascist EDL march in the face of opposition. They attempted a wide kettle (a police formation which traps protestors inside a police cordon, often for hours), only preventing people they had decided were protesters from leaving, so a number of us were free to leave if wearing plain clothes. Their poor judgement allowed us the freedom of movement which enabled a highly mobile and rapid response to the subsequent manoeuvres on the part of the police and EDL march.

The police invoked powers from section 60 of the Public Order Act, requiring everyone to remove face-masks. This public order act criminalised obscuring your face and even resulted in several officers blazenly demanding that demonstrators remove sunglasses and hats, despite it being a bright day. It is well known that fascists and various ultranationalist groups regularly use photographs and videos taken on the day to identify and target opposition figures with violent harassment and intimidation. Thus, obscuring your identity as such demonstrations, where both the police and fascists seek to identify antifascists to pursue recriminations, is an act of self defence. The use of these draconian powers served only to make demonstrating less safe for antifascists, and enabled both the EDL and the florescent fascists to identify and target vulnerable protestors. However, it also presented us with a number of opportunities to engage with the local community, showing a friendlier face and answering questions on who we are, what we stand for, and why we cover our faces. This ultimately worked in our favour, as the community came together to defend itself, and our cooperation with each other’s tactics was key to our success. Additionally, due to the large number of militant antifascists present, the section 60 was only able to be partially enforced, as demanding hundreds of people remove face coverings continuously over several hours proved unfeasible for the ill prepared and overstretched police force.

As the EDL were arriving, a sizable black bloc came charging down the high street, instantly breaking the kettle, and we were free to join the bloc and chase down the fash. They were shortly penned in against one side of the street, with two rows of riot police between us and them. Without provocation, the pigs began shoving protesters and charging us with horses, in order to create a space for the fascists to march. They made it about 40 feet before being completely surrounded by antifascists on all sides, bringing their pathetic march to a complete standstill. The mounted police were prevented from clearing a path through protesters, who sat down in front of them chanting “no pasaran!” in the vein of the Spanish civil war antifascists of yore, challenging the police to either trample peaceful protesters or give up at their sick attempt to force the people of Liverpool to tolerate a nazi march.

We successfully stopped the EDL from marching, by using the police’s own methods against them. It would be almost two hours before the police managed to break free from our kettle, which has surrounded both the EDL and their shameless police bodyguards for the day. Despite the sizeable black bloc presence, this would not have been possible if it weren’t for the active participation of the local people of Liverpool, who, upon seeing the success our tactics had at interrupting the march, joined us in surrounding the fascists, which freed up the bloc to outmaneuver several police attempts to kettle us or break free, while still keeping the EDL penned in. It was so inspiring to see so many people from all walks of life taking action together for the common good, without need for hierarchy or infrastructure that the police depend on heavily to get anything done.

The police attempted to break free with the use of three riot vans, several horses, and a dog unit for intimidation, but the bloc held firm and we weren’t moved until the police physically attacked us. Several people were punched in the neck, and others were kicked or thrown into each other. Our fantastic team of legal observers caught everything, so officer #888 and his mates might want to start looking for other employment. While we were defending ourselves from this violence, the fash were closely escorted back to their coach, and sent on their way. Rumour has it, that as some of the EDL were dispersing through Liverpool, they were chased into a local sainsbury’s, only to face the wrath of an angry “red nan”, who challenged the cowardly thugs to a fist fight!

A number of trophies were collected, including several fascists caps, a few picket signs, and a flag, which will no doubt be disposed of by their victorious new owners in due course!

Overall, the day was a fantastic success for both regional and national antifascist groups, as well as courageous locals, who united together to defy the heavy handed (yet under prepared) police and see the racist EDL March ground to a halt, pelted with all manner of objects and finally dispersed after hours of being kettled. The EDL have been on the decline as a group for years and hopefully decisive defeats like these will see them and similar groups resigned to the history books, where they firmly belong. They left dejected, humiliated, unsuccessful and hounded by antifascists all the way.

¡No pasarán!

Edinburgh Antifa

Unfortunately, in an unrelated break in, the hire van we took down to the demo had it’s windows smashed and many of our phones and valuables were stolen. We are consequently fundraising the costs to relieve the burden on our group and keep our comrades in the fight!

You can contribute to our fundraiser here: Van Repair Fund!

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Edinburgh: Work Needs To Be Done

“…it must be said no one won . We were both totally shut down by the OB today.”

The words of the Scottish Defence League, a miniscule group of about forty who had English associates bussed up from England and boosted their numbers to around 200. A group that can be easily defeated in an urban environment should the correct tactics be deployed by the quoted figure of 400 that turned up to counter-demonstrate their presence in the city.

Working with Unite Against Fascism has never been good. There was no adrenaline pumping victory this time around despite information from scouts around the city flooding in as we stood on the Mound from around 10 am. Activists wanted to get moving and start their work but speeches began around 10:30 and carried on for another two hours. We proceeded to march on the designated route and came across a designated protest area. Voices of disapproval came from anti-fascist supporters. What lay ahead of us was a designasted protest area with four hours of  singalonga UAF action giving people sore throats shouting rather than actually doing some groundwork or re-education. We trust this group because they purport to be comrades and many of their activists are politically sound on a daily basis but it is the structure of the organisation and those who operate it that needs to be questioned directly. People who turn up at demonstrations and feel that the statement “I’m an elected and salaried member of UAF” gives them authority of action is as deluded as those who are willing to be marched into a police cordon, excusing those that do this for fear of their own safety. Such people must be removed from leadership and expelled for collaboration. They are there to do what they are paid to do and nothing more. People who are sucking up time on a podium and are employing delaying tactics when time is of the essence. They have no desire nor will to take on the task in hand.

The main problem we face with the EDL and SDL is that they are in fact a bunch of hooligans who charge about from town to town causing a ruckus. With the arrival of anti-semitism in the form of the Infidels of Britain and their secret nationalist demonstration “In The North” on the 8th of October we have the next generation of the National Front being born as the BNP goes bankrupt. These people need to be faced directly and have their political footing questioned, sternly and not from a distance of 400 yards inside a police pen. Many are young and it is education where any serious anti-fascist has to start thinking about their community,, another thing the UAF will not do to a competent level. Edinburgh and Glasgow are two very different cities when it comes to education. I am a weedjie and Glasgow has a vibrant anti-fascist scene currently with much street art around anti-fascism, regular anti-racist football tournaments, excellent work from community organisations for refugees, a fine campaign against public sector cuts and an on-going celebration of voluntary resistance to fascism in Spain. In fact, on the very day the SDL took to the streets of Edinburgh, people in Glasgow held a  commemoration ceremony for those who fought fascism in Spain.

Meanwhile in Edinburgh Hibs CCS casuals were split between the old and the young. Youngsters were largely drawn towards the SDL demonstration whilst older hands decided to stand against fascism. I spoke to a Hibs fan who was a member of the James Connolly Society. He spoke with despair that youngsters were not interested in the Connolly. When this man is a radical who fought for social justice until his murder. A man who should be celebrated and revered by all of Edinburgh as an example of what a man from Leith can achieve if he struggles hard enough. The Wakes, a band from Glasgow, who preserve his name in the song James Connolly’s Ghost. If Hibs fans don’t wake up to the treasure they own their club could end up with the blasphemy of the Celtic Cross being abused as a fascist standard.  Meanwhile musically Edinburgh has some good tunes Oi Polloi’s “Bash The Fash” is a great tune that has rung around Edinburgh’s punk scene for a while but the punk scene did not bring as much energy as it has on previous occasions to this demonstration. Numbers were poor and many that turned out bemoaned the plastic punks who are happy to wear ANTIFA symbols at a punk gig but are unwilling to take those same politics to the street.

So with small numbers, bored to the brink of death by self-promoting speeches and aware of the police kettle that awaited them, a break-off group of around 40 took to the streets to attempt to get to the SDL: at the very least to make them aware of our presence. with the streets swamped with police this was like attacking a glass window with a bee-sting. Those inside could see and hear us banging on the pane. They got the message but that was about it as everyone remained under police escort. Let us work towards a time when there is not such apathy and inaction on display in the face of hatred. Together.