Members of the CWU communication workers' union, UNISON, PCS civil servants and firefighters' FBU were amongst about 200 who joined the counter-protest against the fascist Britain First group in Rochdale on Saturday, 22nd July. The counter-protest was called by Unite Against Fascism.
The Muslim Defence League (MDL) organised up to 50 mainly Asian supporters to march from the Broadfield Park area of Rochdale to the town centre rally. The anti-racist protest later moved to an area overlooking an edge-of-town car park where no more than 60 fascists were held in a police pen, surrounded by three-metre-high solid steel police barriers.
"Paul Golding of Britain First is just now giving a speech talking about his ancestors", UAF's Weyman Bennett said as he addressed the anti-racist protesters. "But we already know his ancestors were Adolf Hitler and Mussolini."
UNISON member Vernetta attacked Teresa May and the Tories when she spoke, for "using racism as a distraction while continuing austerity and attacks on services." CWU officers also spoke to offer continuing support for the fight against racism and fascism.
After a short rally, the small group of BF fascists were rushed by police back to the train station on the edge of town - most of Rochdale would not have seen them all day. Anti-racists marched back to the town centre.
If fascist groups attempt to exploit the recent revelations of child sexual abuse in Rochdale to turn communities against each other, anti-racists and trade unionists must mobilise to block them. Unite Against Fascism and Stand Up To Racism urge labour movement activists, faith groups and community leaders to speak out publicly against the racists' attempts to label Rochdale's Muslim and Pakistani-origin communities as somehow to blame for the abuse.