Reevesey's recommended reading

Saturday, 27 November 2010

English Defence League Protest in Preston - One mans perspective

A guest post from one of my friends, Andrew Neale.

Andrew (the one on the left) and I met on a fundraising walk in New York organised by Stonewall.  I don't agree with Andrew's politics, but we met on a fundraising event trying to make other people's lives better.

Andrew is one of those amazing people with a huge heart and works so hard to help others, whether it is in Preston or other parts of the world - a true amazing friend.

I never bother readin other people's notes ... and I don't particularly expect many to read/care about this ...
But I have more to say than my status word limit will allow.
I am so impressed with today's protest in Preston - The English Defence League (EDL) were in the city protesting about how Muslims apparently come first in the UK and how the white English/British population are apparently second class citizens etc etc...) Previous protests, organised by the EDL, have turned into riots so there was much anticipation that today could turn violent. Pubs like the Black Horse and take-aways like Chicken Ranch boarded up their windows to minimise potential damage and the police/council designated the flag market as an assembly point for the EDL and the covered market as an assembly point for the United Against Fascism (UAF) group - with a noticeable and strong cordon between the two. The UAF wanted to counter protest against the EDL as they believe in everyone living happily and loving each other ("No to racism" etc are some of their slogans).

Prior to the protest I spoke with an acquaintance about the EDL and he informed me that they just believe in fairness - and that it's extremists within the group that give them a bad name - which is fair enough. However, after getting caught up in their side of the protest I have to say they were majorly aggressive (throwing cans of beer up in the air towards the audience, setting off red smoke bombs and bangers - Not exactly sticking to their fliers tag line of "Peacefully protesting in Preston". I felt uncomfortable and unsafe - and asked my friend if we could move away.

The EDL definitely had more people present than the UAF - and there were more bystanders watching the EDL. The impression I got from people I spoke with was that they were just more intrigued because there was potential for something to kick off. An interesting observation was when the EDL were chanting. Imagine there were 500 people crammed onto the flag market and branching off down the adjoining streets. There were only about 100 actually chanting and jumping up and down. The rest of us simply stood, observing. I therefore think it's fair to conclude that most people present were only curious, rather than supporting the cause which the EDL were raising. (Thankfully)

I didn't want to associate with either party because I don't have in-depth knowledge about them and they both seemed a little extreme in my view. Me and my friend therefore sat in the middle, with small banners which simply read 'Where is the Love?' and 'Understanding + Respect = Harmony'. They were pretty geeky and nothing special in the slightest, but the passing public noticed, commented and pretty much agreed. The press took some pictures too and some of the Millwall fans/EDL protesters took photos with us as well (Clearly taking the piss but I'm not one to care - shows we have a sense of humour!)

When the police split up the EDL protest and forced them all down Fishergate (on to us and the rest of the public) I felt vulnerable and as if something could have kicked off. My banner went down and we slowly made our way through the crowds to the bottom end of the street. I have to say the majority of the EDL supporters/protesters appeared to be chavs - many in trackies or hoodies, scarves covering their faces etc.The UAF protesters were more family-focussed, student types or hippy-ish: A random but good mix. We eventually went round to their side to hear their views and read their banners etc, and decided to stay and show our support for them.
At the end of the day the majority of people seemed to be sat in the middle - agreeing with parts of both parties or not really caring either way but just wanting a nosy. In my view, there is no middle. It's a line. And you're either on one side or the other. I'm proud to say that I was on the side fighting for peace and an end to discrimination. I'm also proud that there were no riots and that Lancashire Constabulary prepared and carried out everything perfectly. Preston is my hometown, as it is for people from all kinds of backgrounds, and today's protest will hopefully show that the majority of people here are decent and have morals. And that my friends has absolutely made my day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Found this website googling EDL and Preston as I had the misfortune to be on a train to Preston on Saturday morning and wondered what had happened. The vast majority of the EDL on the train were drunk on cheap beer and whisky by 11am. Ths gave them the confidence to block corridors and sing offensive songs. May God defend us from the English Defence League.

Related Posts with Thumbnails