EDL outnumbered in the Wild South West
How low can the EDL's fortunes plummet? “We won't be coming back to Bristol any time soon” said Michael Bayliss, the up 'til now unheard of South West regional organiser for the EDL. That comment followed a dismal turn-out of around 300 to what had been billed by the League as a national demo.
By the time the day had even begun anti-fascists had scored the victory of having the route of the EDL's march diverted. Originally the plan had been for the far-right to start their parade at Bristol's main train station Temple Meads. By the 14th this had been changed to Redcliffe Way and the whole demo route was to take place inside a cordoned off area. By the same token the authorities made a huge effort to persuade the city's Muslim population to stay at home.
We are Bristol , the UAF umbrella group and the more autonomous Bristol Anti-Fascists had organised different meet-up points. Police put pressure on the We are Bristol coalition to change their meet up point from the Fountain's area to the more distant and controllable Castle Park. Arrests at the Fountains (including that of UAF top bod Martin Smith) were made to enforce the policy.
Meanwhile by 11am, a couple of hundred had arrived to answer Bristol Anti-Fascists' call out to gather in the Temple Meads area to the south. Some scuffling with the EDL's early arrivals ensued but as over 1000 cops were deployed on the day to keep two sides apart the excitment was short lived. Anti-fascists in groups were kettled and moved on to Castle Park, meaning that by 1pm the EDL were able to stagger in a mobile cordon around their tiny march route with over a thousand counter-demonstrators confined to jeering at them from Bristol Bridge. Due to the low turn-out the EDL only occupied a quarter of the space allotted.
After a two hour stalemate, it came time for the police to bring the EDL back through town. By now anti-fascists had succeeded in gathering the clans, including a Pink&Black bloc from the ongoing Bristol Pride festival, and a vibrant and feisty counter demo clashed with police. A banner was used to repel a charge by mounted cops, bricks were thrown and bins were set on fire but ultimately weight of numbers told and police were able to clear a path back to the station. A visibly demoralised EDL were then paraded through the handful of antis armed only with the obligatory drummenbass soundsystem.
Cider House Rules
With the main demo over, knots of EDL and anti-fascists evaded cops to attempt to resolve their issues more, er, independently. According to eyewitnesses this eventually lead to a splendidly frank exchange of views outside the Cider House on Old Market St.
SchNEWS spoke to the Anti-Fascist Network who told us “Bristol hopefully marks the turning point of the process started in Brighton. There are still hundreds of police at EDL demos but they're there now to protect the EDL from the public.”
The EDL's next outing will be in Walthamstow on 18th August. Anti-fascists will,as ever, be counter-mobilising.