Report and analysis of FLA demo in London, Saturday 24th June



Following recent terrorist attacks, the subsequent ‘Unite Against Hate’ demo in Manchester – one of the largest and most violently Islamophobic right wing demonstrations many of us had seen in years, and last week’s attack on Finsbury Park Mosque, Saturday 24th June looked like a potential shit show in central London. While the EDL demo in Whitehall was not going to be much to worry about on it’s own, especially after anti-fascists recently smashed them again in Liverpool; another march within walking distance planned for the same day presented a more serious concern.

This second demo was organised by the ‘Football Lads Alliance’ (FLA) a group formed after the terrorist attacks in London Bridge, inspired at least in part by Millwall fan Roy Larner, dubbed The Lion of London Bridge, whose heroic story of fighting the attackers was splashed all over UK media. The FLA quickly attracted a huge Facebook following, and there were concerns that it was this group that attracted so many racist marchers in Manchester two weeks ago. But while FLA are clearly attracting members of the far-right, they are not organising as a fascist group. In the weeks leading up to the demo organisers of FLA posted explicit warnings to say that fascists would not be allowed on their demo, and also tried to emphasise that they were protesting extremism rather than Islam. However, with such unclear organisational structures, a huge following, evidence from Manchester just two weeks earlier, and clear support from (now probably pissed off) fascists, there was no guarantee how the march would be on the day. Further to this their original call-out, before the torrid events of Manchester, had in fact been planned to march on to London Central Mosque in Regents Park. 

Central London is not a community, it is the playground of the police. Public call outs are rarely successful even when the target is clear. On this occasion, with so many unknowns and variables, anti-fascists in London decided to mobilise privately, to monitor the situation comprehensively throughout the day and be prepared to act as and when necessary. What follows is our report from the day, along with analysis and conclusions for future action.




FLA numbers were around 2,000, maybe 3,000 – sizable, but nowhere near the 10k being celebrated on certain far-right social media platforms.  

We were in and around the area from 11:30am and on the march itself until it disbanded at London Bridge.

During the demonstration we had overheard several conversations from attendees, the main topic of which was around other “firms” that were coming down and a worry that things might kick off. One group of fans in a coffee shop were communicating with some other members over the phone and discussing how they were dressed casual to ward off any potential issues with rival firms, especially Millwall.

In terms of well-known football firms, Millwall, Chelsea, West Ham and Tottenham who were well represented on the demo were the most likely to bring with them football related violence. The area around London Bridge is considered Millwall territory.

Due to the nature of the crowd, suspicion of police violence were also high, police had intel on specific persons attending the demo, and names and back stories being mentioned by police on the peripheries of the crowd were heard. The police had large numbers of officers in reserve but kept a low(ish) profile on the demo and intel pre demo was consistent with their approach on the day.

We observed that the FLA appeared very organised:  the march started on time and as soon as St. Paul’s rang noon attendees started crawling out of the nearby pubs and cafes to head towards where the speeches were being held. Due to a poor PA system at the rally point, it was hard to hear a lot of what was being said by the speakers, but the general vibe and bits that we heard were directly challenging Islamic extremism. Although, one speaker did say that they were against all forms of extremism and it was nothing to do with religion and that all religions were welcome. That being said, there was no explicit mention of the recent terrorist attacks perpetrated by the far-right or fascist sympathisers, such as the killing of Joe Cox last year and the brutal murder of Muslims outside a mosque in Finsbury Park just a few weeks ago. Despite their attempts to remain neutral it certainly seemed they were nodding to a particular manifestation of extremism over another.

The crowd were overwhelmingly aged between 30 and 60, predominantly white and many sporting English nationalistic tattoos, which considering that they would be travelling English football fans is not a sign of anything latent politically, except the usual flavour of patriotism that plagues much of football culture. There were smatterings of children and small groups of “youngn’s” (firm youth wings).

God Save the Queen, football chants of England, England and England ‘Til I Die rang through the crowd at various points, but aside from this and random moments of spontaneous applause, no other chanting of any other kind took place, the demo proceeded down the preassigned route at a steady pace, police were amongst the crowd, and the street cleaning staff were on hand to clear up behind the march. The police allowed free movement and groups to disperse throughout the demo, deploying a very soft touch crowd control.

Once the march completed at London Bridge, the crowd split off into various pubs across the area. We attended several and found no obvious signs of fash, no chanting and no violence. A few conversations were heard in nearby pubs about “needing to remember what it is to be British”, but overall the demo seemed ideologically vague, and even confused at times. We did observe several known people on the peripheries of the demo during the day that I believe were associated to fascist groups like Pie and Mash, but no attempt to infiltrate or rally to a cause, and no literature was handed out. Just a few pathetic tweets on social media that fell on deaf ears.

There was a fascist presence, but it was practically invisible. Had the organisers not explicitly discouraged a far-right association, and had there been any visible left-wing opposition we believe it might have been different, including but not limited the meager fascist presence sporting their banners and explicit racism. We observed several visibly Muslim women wearing hijabs walking through the area and past many of the tail end of the demo; there was no sign of any confrontation or words spoken, despite zero visible anti-fascist presence at that point. The fascists who were there tried to claim the numbers on the demo as a victory but were visibly disappointed in the overall tone and attitude and did not wish to stick around in the area afterwards.

Although intimidating and a high testosterone level, with firms being itchy about police and possible attack from anti-fascists, the march seemed well-tempered and nationalistic with a small ‘n’. This is not to suggest soft nationalism is okay, but simply to make the observation that the tone of the demo was deliberately avoiding overt, in-your-face hard nationalism that could be perceived as inciting racism.  

From our standpoint, the tactic of non-confrontation and being on hand and in numbers close by to react to any potential (as well as looking for active far-right) was spot on.



This is not the start of a new fascist street movement, but rather evidence that there are still large numbers of nationalist, racist football fans who were spurred into action when a recent attack involved one of their own. What is of more concern to us is the way far-right figures like Tommy Robinson are trying to use these numbers to jump start a new movement. There were a lot of Tommy Robinson fans amongst that crowd. He is now attempting to connect this demo to the UK Against Hate campaign he is pushing with Anne-Marie Waters, UKIP MP, who has just launched her campaign for leadership. Tommy Robinson seems to think he is playing a clever game, clearly not happy with the association to the violence and hooliganism recently played out in Manchester under his name, and so waited until this demonstration was not a repeat of that before attaching himself to it. Tommy Robinson is attempting to reinvent his image and his brand as a legitimate, ‘respectable’ and more palatable flavour of racism and anti-Muslim hatred than previously associated with the thuggish hoolies of the EDL. Moreover, his relationship with Canadian alt-right media platform Rebel Media, whose UK contingent includes the likes of Milo wannabe Caolan Robertson, and alt-right racist and anti-feminist Lucy Brown, is one to be weary of and to target. They have been consistently disseminating vile racist, far-right, extreme nationalist and anti-Muslim propaganda, opportunistically using recent terrorist attacks claimed by ISIS in London and Manchester to spread their hate for “other cultures”. Whipping up this kind of popular anger into something insidious and dangerous, leading to the most recent terror attacks against Muslims in Finsbury park, and lone wolf acid attacks against Asians in east London. It is not necessarily the FLA we need to be weary of, but the wider proliferation of nationalism, Islamophobia, and anti-migrant feeling present in the UK today, that can be taken advantage of by the far-right like Tommy Robinson and his ilk.

It is also necessary to point out that the EDL were planning a march to Parliament on the same day. However, due to the knowledge that the EDL are barely functioning as a street movement, we did not feel it would have been an effective use of our numbers to oppose them. And we were right. Their tiny numbers were instantly dwarfed by police for their own protection, who ushered them quickly through central London, and escorted them onto the train station as hurriedly as they’d come in. Movement for Justice had called for a public mobilisation, as did the UAF, but the lack of community or ordinary working class people who actually occupy this part of London always meant it would be difficult to mobilise large numbers. They were able to regroup and hound the EDL as they were scurried away. We hope in the future to work more effectively with MfJ so that we can play to our strengths, combining their community facing organising with our militant anti-fascist experience.   

Fuck ISIS. Biji Biji Rojava: statement on London terror attack

Over the course of three months, the UK has been subject to as many acts
of terror, with Daesh  (ISIS) claiming responsibility for them. On Saturday,
with many of London Anti-fascists arriving home from an action in
Liverpool against the EDL, we learnt that only moments before a terrorist
attack had occurred at London Bridge and Borough Market. As always, our
love and solidarity is with the victims of the attack, their families mourning
globally, and the many onlookers and bystanders who had to flee. Our solidarity
is also given to the innocent bystander recovering from a gun shot wound to the
head at the hands of the police armed response units. However, there is only so
much solidarity we can give, whilst waiting for another of these attacks to occur,
before we are forced look at the root cause of terrorism in the UK. We must do so through an internationalist lens. 

Already, the story appears similar to that of the Manchester bombing, in
which Salman Abedi was reported multiple times by a worried Muslim
community for his extremist views.  We will soon learn more about the
three attackers and their histories. Will they, like Salman Abedi, have
been given free reign to fight in jihadist militias abroad? Salman Abedi
and others were allowed to travel to Libya, under the assumption that
the violence they engaged in could be used to further the imperialist
interests of the British state. The shedding of the illusion that the
consequences of this tacit support for jihadists can be confined to
distant countries provides us with a bitter taste of the carnage that
our governments have sponsored across the Middle East and North Africa.
Therefore, what we need to understand if we are ever to combat this
violence is that ‘homegrown’ terrorism does not exist. Terrorism like
this comes out of the foreign policy of the ruling classes. It comes out
of unbridled support for Saudi Arabia, the arms we sell to them, the
blind eye we turn to the intolerant Wahhabist interpretation of the
Koran which they cynically promote, and the support they provide to
Salafi militias, support which inevitably reaches groups like Daesh.
Only a week ago, the Guardian claimed that the Tories are refusing to
publish details of a ‘sensitive’ report which suggests that Saudi Arabia
is a primary cause and source of funding for terrorism. It is now well
known that Daesh’s organizational origins lay with the shell of the
Baathist state. It was able to grow across Iraq as Britain and America,
in order to establish control of the country after the invasion of 2003,
promoted vicious religious sectarianism that has killed hundreds of
thousands to date.

While the Tories try to smear Jeremy Corbyn with the accusation that he
is ‘soft’ on terrorism, despite having been the ones managing a
disastrous domestic and foreign policy for seven years, they sell
billions of pounds worth of arms to Saudi Arabia so that they can bomb
the working classes in Yemen. While they shirk from the responsibility
of the failed imperialist project in Libya – and the fact that they
allowed Salman Abedi and others free reign to fight with the Libyan
Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) which further destabilized Libya and
created a breeding ground for Islamic fundamentalists – there is an
anti-fascist and internationalist struggle occurring in Rojava.

Rojava is an autonomous Kurdish region bordering Turkey, Syria and Iraq.
Since 2013, Kurdish, Arabic, Turkish and Syriac militias that make up
the Syrian Democratic Forces such as the YPG (People’s Protection
Units), the YPJ (Women’s Protection Units), the MLKP (Marxist Leninist
Communist Party) and the IFB  (International Freedom Battalion) have
been fighting Daesh on the front lines and have been liberating towns,
and villages – accepting refugees into their cantons by the hundreds of
thousands. There, as operations in Raqqa are prepared, as Tabqa is
liberated, as the Yazidi people are freed from sexual slavery, Daesh are
being destroyed. They are fleeing. They are scared. They are desperate. We send oursolidarity to those fighting Daesh on the front lines, including those within the ranks of  London Anti-fascists.

The fight against Daesh is an anti-fascist struggle, a working class
international struggle. Daesh is not a symptom of Islam, it is a symptom of
imperialism. If you want to see more terrorism on our streets, then it
is only right that you support imperialism and the ruling classes such
as the Tories who are directly responsible for Manchester. If you want
to see Daesh eradicated from the face of the earth, then first you need
to understand that internationalism is necessary to do so. It is
important now and always to remember that the victims globally of Daesh
are disproportionately Muslim. In the wake of these attacks, remember
the international struggle and pay no heed to the reactionary dog
whistle politics which call for the internment, deportation, and
assimilation of Muslims into a racist and nationalist project.

Anti-fascism is working-class self-defense.


Why we need to shut down the London Forum


The London Forum was started by Jeremy Bedford-Turner and Larry Nunn as a response to the collapse of the BNP and the EDL as a pole of attraction for hardline fascists to meet and listen to renowned international speakers.

The London Forum aims to be the ideological backbone of the contemporary fascist movement in the UK, distancing itself from rowdy alcohol fuelled demonstrations of the EDL but attempting to provide an attraction to the the most serious of former street movements. It has hosted holocaust deniers to anti-Semites, who cynically use the pro-Palestine movement to further their racism, at expensive West London hotel. Creating a fascist platform that seeks to unite all reactionaries that share a hatred for Jews and progressives under one campaign, even hosting the cockroach James Thring who has spoken at pro-Palestine meetings with Corbyn in the past.

Although we have seen much bigger far-right movements before, the London Forum is a fascist form to be concerned about. It began small but has grown to about one hundred people attending their extremely closed and secretive meetings. In addition to this they have expanded their meetings to the south west, Yorkshire, Scotland and Wales with plans to expand further. The fascists organising this are some of the original founders of the National Front in the 1970’s and it is clear that they are attempting to found a similar movement with the London Forum. In the 1960’s the National Front was established as a coalition of small groups on the far-right including the League of Empire Loyalists, the BNP, and the Greater Britain Movement. Although this coalition proved to be volatile and problematic the National Front went on to become the largest fascist threat that the UK had faced since the British Union of Fascists in the 1940’s.

It is clear that the intent of these secret discussion groups is to relaunch the fascist movement in the UK and it is essential for the anti-fascist movement to root its opposition to fascism in opposition to these meetings. These are well funded and attended events that have links right across the spectrum of reaction in the UK and must be stopped if we are to oppose the rise of fascism in the future.

(Details of the London Forum have been withheld for operational reasons, however it should be noted that these details add to the evidence of the dangerous and insidious nature of the London Forum).  

If you’d like more information, the Independent produced a good report on the London Forum and the anti-fascist protest that opposed it in February.

Statement on the Attack in Manchester

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Last night at 10.30 PM at a pop concert in Manchester Arena, an explosion killed at least 22 including children and injured at least 59. Reports have been coming in during the early hours of the morning confirming the suspect to have been killed in the blast. This has been described as one of the deadliest attacks in the UK of the last decade.

There is still speculation as to the motives of the killer and an ongoing investigation to uncover whether they acted alone or part of a wider group.

What we do know is the misery following this horrific attack will be hijacked by the grief vultures of the far right. Already high profile racist Katie Hopkins is calling for a “final solution” on Twitter, while other fascist media personalities are scrambling for any information they can twist in order to fuel their anti-migrant, anti-Muslim agendas, and continue attacking the Left who dare challenge their blatant racism. There are two fascist demonstrations planned for Liverpool and Manchester in the coming weeks that will, no doubt, use last night’s tragedy in order to attract bigger numbers and use the deaths of dozens of ordinary people in order to grow their organisational capacity. They must be opposed.

What we also know is that black, Asian and Muslim communities in the UK will bear the brunt of the inevitable racist fall-out from this attack. The media will allude to the killer acting in the name of Islam, and people will be out for revenge fuelled by the hate-mongering far right. Of course, the irony being the ideology that incites such hatred and bloody violence, which is shared by extremists from ISIS to National Action, is fascism. Vilifying Muslims in the name of freedom only plays into the hands of the same forces of reaction that breeds terrorist organisations. The most under threat of terrorists in the Middle East are Muslims, Kurds, and other ethnic and religious minorities. This is not a race war and blind nationalism is not the answer.

This is the people’s war. Anti-fascist comrades from Manchester and London are fighting together on the frontlines in Rojava, in the name of class struggle, liberty, and international solidarity. This is the time to resist the far right’s cynical attempts to capitalise off of a grief stricken community once again. This is the time to come together and fight and not allow the bourgeois class to continue to sow division and suspicion amongst ordinary working people. This is the time to recognise that our liberation is tied up in the liberation of our working class siblings who struggle all around the world.

Our thoughts are with all of the victims, their friends and families in Manchester throughout this difficult time, and our Manchester comrades. Your struggle is our struggle.

SEA Shut Down in Croydon


To say that fascists descended on Croydon on Saturday May 6th would be both an exaggerated lie and hyperbole. Whilst the London Evening Standard likes to believe that the South East Alliance (a coalition of fascists formed out of the dying embers of the National Front, the BNP, English Volunteer Force and British Movement) pulled out 40 members, their actual numbers were closer to, but not quite, 15.

Yesterday was an important moment in recent street anti-fascism, no less because of the way it was coordinated. London Antifascists want to first extend a congratulations to the group who organised yesterday’s counter-demo, Movement for Justice By Any Means Necessary. From early in the day, MfJ established a strong presence at East Croydon Station, ready to meet the fascists as they arrived. Attracting locals to join members, a crowd of nearly 200 people soon amassed and stayed, joining in chants of ‘When the community is under attack, we fight back!’ and ‘We will win’. And we did.

There were moments of confusion, especially at the beginning. Members of the crowd, and it should be said members dressed in black bloc not affiliated to the AFN, made an uncoordinated push to meet fascists at the pub they were found to be drinking in. Leaving behind comrades from the larger crowd, they immediately came into contact with police who created a tight barrier across the main road forcing the march to halt almost as soon as it began. Despite this setback, the lack of a police kettle and the layout of Croydon meant that groups from the march soon started to form elsewhere and think tactically. This isn’t by any means a desire to attack comrades in black bloc, but it is necessary to recognise the weaknesses in mobilisation and formation and remember what the purpose of the bloc is. The black bloc should be a collective action, placing themselves as the first wave between police and fascists and the rest of the demonstration in a way that aptly counters the forces they face. It should not be lacking form, direction, or coordination. Otherwise, it only seeks to endanger everybody present. This point is underlined by the fact that one activist now faces a Section 5 Public Order charge which could have been avoided.

As small groups found ways out of the police cordon, siphoning off in order to once again attempt to confront the fascists, police began the arduous, embarrassing march accompanying the SEA through the streets of Croydon. Whether by chance or design, antifascists were able to surround the small collection of drunk, weathered louts, furiously out-of-shape for an apparent “master race”, surrounded by tight formation of police at a ratio of at least 10:1.

For all the tactical shortcomings of the beginning, protesters and activists soon shut down the main road and for some time held the SEA in stasis. A rallying moment came when, arms linked, drowning out the weak chants of the failing far-right, Skepta’s ‘Shutdown’ came pouring over the crowds, releasing cheers and a new motivation to push harder against the now encroaching police lines. This is what we need – the sound of working class London artists (and self-proclaimed activists) shutting down racist outsiders looking to capitalise on an ideology of fear and division.

Police managed to push back protesters to the meeting point of Lunar House, where the penned-in UAF counter demo, which was, in a sad twist of irony, made up mostly by the UK Border Agency Union, had been all day. Whilst they will inevitably aim to take credit for the work of Movement for Justice activists, anti-fascists and the local community, their lack of solidarity in recent years is thematic as they cling on tightly to their delusions of grandeur.

For nearly 2 hours, police protected the SEA in the car park of Lunar House, while activists drowned them out with grime music, chants and laughter. What had been a planned launch of the SEA in London, proved to be an empowering moment in anti-fascism. Their PA speakers mumbled as they tried to make speeches, and it was easy to tell that most of them were pining to be back in the pub.

When the fascists were finally done with their unsuccessful launch party, the police attempted to take them back to the station and ferry them onto the trains home, back outside of the city that won’t ever want them. They were continuously out-maneuvered at this point too, with the people of Croydon not happy until every last one of them was gone. The only way police could keep the fascists safe was by closing off all exits to East Croydon Station and chauffeuring them away.

Yesterday showed that what we need more than ever is an organised and united coalition amongst different anti-racist and anti-fascist groups to always outnumber the far-right. As UKIP rapidly collapses, and out of that collapse, new and more motivated anti-immigrant nationalist movements will grow with more power than they’ve ever had, we need to begin the process of developing a movement that is ready for them.

Solidarity to the people of Croydon, Movement for Justice and anti-fascists everywhere!

NB: On Saturday 13th May, Movement for Justice have organised a demonstration outside of Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre in support of the migrant and asylum seeking women trapped inside – click on the event here to attend: