I'm new to Sunderland, so I've not been quick to jump head first into the local response to the far right, but there are reasons why I will walk with the anti-fascists tomorrow (Murray Library, Chester road, 11.30am)
The message we learnt in Bradford was simply this - if the EDL are unopposed when they come to town - they keep coming back for more. When in the Summer of 2010 they were met with a large demonstration of Anti-fascists, it was the beginning of the end for the EDL. Since then, they have been diminishing in number, and are getting weaker by the day.
In Sunderland they have not met with enough resistance. The Police let them come and go with little controls. They are allowed to meet up in pubs and get tanked up. The Council thinks that encouraging people to stay away will solve the crisis. It hasn't. They keep coming back - time and time again.
I agree that the left must change their tactics - too many young men think that shouting abuse at fascists is a way to combat them. It isn't, they thrive on confrontation, they are desperate for a fight - they are mostly common thugs.
But we need to publicly and politically show that this city is a 'Fascist free zone'. If we do not mobilise when they come, they will keep coming back for more - terrorising our Muslim population, making them fearful about their new mosque, and inciting racial hatred in our neighbourhoods.
It must end. The local population, the faith communities, the police and the local council must all play their part in making sure the EDL know 'They are not welcome in our city'.
'No Pasaran', the Fascists shall not pass!