A campaign has been launched to defend anti-fascist organisers arrested whilst opposing the EDL in Bolton earlier this year.
On 20 March 2010, anti-racists and anti-fascists organised a demonstration in Bolton against a rally called by the so-called English Defence League (EDL). The EDL has direct links to the fascist BNP, and is violently Islamophobic (racist against Muslims).
Over 50 antifascist activists were arrested. Many fewer were charged though the national and local organisers face potential charges of conspiracy to incite violent disorder. This attempt to use conspiracy laws is a highly unusual and very worrying step, which threatens both anti-racist activity and wider civil liberties. More details are given on the website: www.justice4bolton.org.
The aim of the justice4bolton campaign, launched nationally at the House of Commons last June with MPs Peter Hain and Jeremy Corbyn, is to stop the use of conspiracy laws to de-legitimise protests against the rise of fascism and the right to any public protest.
In a message to the justice4bolton national launch Yasmin Qureshi MP, who was elected to the Bolton South East parliamentary seat in May, said: “I supported the aims of the protest against the English Defence League in Bolton on 20th March and I was at the demonstration. I did not see or hear any activity amongst the protesters that I would have described as ‘violent disorder’, though there were some police officers who, in my view, were being heavy-handed in some cases.”
In his message to the Bolton launch of justice4bolton last Friday its national president, Shadow Cabinet Minister Peter Hain, said: “This is our next step on the road to justice for Bolton people and all the anti-fascists and trade unionists who showed such great solidarity against the racist EDL on 20th March. justice4bolton’s determination to expose and stop this attempt to criminalise protests and protestors is absolute. Our unity will defend the right to protest against and, ultimately, stop the fascists.”
justice4bolton already includes trade unionists, anti fascist organisations, and members of the local communities in Bolton. Now justice4bolton is asking for as wide ranging solidarity and financial support as possible.
We urgently need your help to raise funds for our legal and campaigning work. We welcome donations from individuals or organisations, such as trade union branches or community groups.
President: Shadow Minister Peter Hain MP
National Committee Members: Steve Hart, London Regional Secretary Unite the Union; Stephen Bell, Communication Workers’ Union; Matt Foot, Civil Rights Lawyer; Anneliese Midgely, Progressive London; Sharon Russell, UCU; Paul Mackney (AFDC Treasurer) former general secretary NATFHE/UCU.
We ask you to be generous, according to your means, to prevent an injustice to people who were seeking to stop the spread of fascism and violence in our communities.
We need to raise over £35,000 in donations to:
- Support Weyman Bennett and Rhetta Moran, the two organisers of the Unite Against Fascism demonstration in Bolton who face very serious conspiracy charges (details below);
- support others arrested on the day (20 March 2010); and, thereby,
- defend our democratic right to protest and demonstrate.
Please send cheques, payable to AFDC (Anti-Fascist Defence Campaign) to: AFDC, PO Box 56959, London N10 9AZ
If you prefer, pay your donation into our bank account at Lloyds TSB Bank, Sort code 30-94-74; Account name: AFDC; Account no. 16666368.
If you are suffering from the credit crunch, lots of five pound donations can mount up too.
The campaign has the support of prominent MPs including Margaret Hodge, Peter Hain and Jeremy Corbyn.
Paul Mackney is Former General Secretary of NATFHE (lecturers’ union now in UCU)
Anti-Fascist Defence Campaign (AFDC) Treasurer
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