Greater Manchester UAF - Press Release, 9 March 2015

Greater Manchester Unite Against Fascism

for immediate release
Monday, 9th March 2015


700 join rally celebrating Multi-cultural Manchester – and then take their message on a march round the city centre streets. Anti-racists reject invitations by GMP to enter 10ft metal caged area in Albert Square.

A rally and march celebrating multi-cultural Manchester outnumbered – by three to one - members of the fascist EDL who held a static gathering outside the Town Hall in Albert Square.

Anti-racists rejected invitations by the police to enter a 10 ft metal caged area in Albert Square to protest against the EDL. Instead, they took their message to the city's streets in a vibrant celebration of multi-culturalism.

The rally and march were called by Unite Against Fascism to coincide with the static EDL gathering after the City's political leaders had given the go-ahead to the demonstration by racists and fascists.

The cost of policing the EDL demonstration is not yet known but is understood to be in the region of £250,000 and could reach £300,000.

On Saturday, Albert Square was turned into a militarized police zone with the EDL caged into one corner and a helicopter overhead. Unite Against Fascism refused police invitations, made during the week leading up to the rally and march, to enter the caged area in a face-off against the EDL.

Young people who came to Piccadilly Gardens on the day itself had to negotiate their ways past the publicly admitted attempts by police and the city council to “deter” them from demonstrating their opposition to Fascism and racism.

Hundreds of anti-racist Mancunian and others from the North West marching in the run up to the United Nations' International Day Against Racism on March 21st, rejected the caged area erected for them on the opposite side of Albert Square from the EDL. They exposed Greater Manchester Police's failed attempt to treat Anti-Fascists as equivalent to the EDL – who are Fascists, Nazis and racists. There is NO equivalence between us and the EDL.

Organisations and individuals who incite racially motivated hatred and physical violence are not the same as people who are working to stop such crimes from ever happening. Why aren't the laws against race hate and physical violence being applied to stop the EDL from gathering?

This question stands alongside others already posed by UAF on Saturday, most of which remain unanswered. We asked the City Council and GMP to explain:

  • How much money the policing of the EDL demonstration today is costing? (We now know this is going to be at least £250,000)
  • What amounts are coming in from what budgets for what resources?
  • Who is paying what for “special free buses”? (GMP say it is coming from “the wider budget for the operation” - but we are looking for a more detailed answer than this)
  • Who is paying what to whom to “deter” our young people from travelling to their own city centre today?

The rally was held at the foot of the Victoria statue in Piccadilly Gardens where the march made a final lap. This is the heart of Multi-cultural Manchester. Alongside families with small children at the fountains and playground, groups of our displaced and homeless people often gather.

Speakers at the rally included delegates from a Manchester Mosque, trade unionists, students and even cake bakers! They each explained, in their different ways, that the current rise in racism and the fight to reverse it is inseparable from the need for action against cuts - which are being brutally administered to working class people by Manchester city council.

One speaker at the rally asked: “How can it be right for the EDL to be given free transport while families with learning disabled children are being told there is no bus to get them to school or to necessary treatment?”

This sentiment was shared by the number of people who took to Twitter to protest against the free transport and against the use of a Manchester pub where the EDL were taken to by the special buses.

On 20th March 2015, to mark the fifth anniversary of the anti EDL rally in Bolton, alongside Bolton trade unionists and others, will hold an event at 12:30 in Victoria Square, Bolton. The GMP and IPCC reports into the policing that day still remain unpublished and specific GMP officers still haven't been disciplined.

A number of people signed up on Saturday to travel as part of a Manchester delegation to the national demonstration against Racism, Fascism and Islamaphobia to be held in London on March 21st.  Contact  07903 586191 for transport details.