200-300 EDL supporters were opposed by around 1,000 counter demonstrators last Saturday in Bristol. They made their feelings heard as the unwanted visitors arrived for their demonstration; from Bristol Bridge as they marched along Welsh Back and as they tried to leave the city.
Counter demonstrators gathered in wet conditions by The Fountains on Bristol City Centre at 11am as the EDL arrived by coach & train and gathered in the Colosseum pub and at Redcliffe Wharf. After an hour or so police managed to persuade everyone to leave the centre and march up Baldwin St to Bristol Bridge. Martin Smith (one of the national organisers of Unite Against Fascism) was arrested on the centre.
Once we were level with Queen Charlotte Sreet, the metal police barricades were pulled back and another large group of anti-EDL protesters were revealed. These were people swept from the route of the EDL march by the vast numbers of police on duty from all over the country. We were also joined at the other end of Baldwin St by more protesters who had heeded police advice to meet there at 1pm.
We continued to protest on Bristol Bridge while the EDL march took place and then heard speeches from several speakers including Kerry McCarthy MP, Weyman Bennett of Unite Against Fascism and a speaker from Sikhs Against the EDL.
After this, many of the protesters marched back to the centre to join the ongoing Pride celebrations while others continued to harass the EDL, at one point blocking their route back to Temple Meads station until the police used horse and riot police charges to move them.
Compared to the turnouts the EDL were mobilising a couple of years ago, Saturday’s poor showing is further proof that the EDL’s racist, contradictory and incoherent message is losing support. We Bristolians can be proud that we’ve contributed to their downward slide!
Local EDL organiser, from Upton Cheyney, Mickey Bayliss told The Post, ‘We made our point but we won’t be back too soon’! So clearly our message got through and we can call it a victory!
Thanks to all the diverse and dedicated people who worked so hard collectively to make the EDL’s march in Bristol such a failure! Now we can go back to the most important job- stopping the ConDems’ crazy austerity programme!