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ANTI-RACISTS faced down a farcical fascist rally in Stockton-on-Tees on Saturday, at least doubling the number of the Islamophobic mob.
The gathering organised by far-right group Gays Against Sharia invited key speaker Anne Marie Waters, who, after failing in a bid to become leader of Ukip, quit the party and formed the minuscule For Britain movement.
Also taking part in the fascist gathering was Teesside local Tommy English — real name Tommy Cook — who was a supporter of the English Defence League (EDL) before its collapse.
Local media put the fascists’ number at fewer than 50 while the counter-protest was supported by more that twice as many people, singing: “There are many, many more of us than you.”
Fascists drove a vehicle around Teesside town centre carrying a billboard saying “Free Tommy Robinson” — a reference to the fascist leader imprisoned for 13 months for contempt of court in Leeds.
The counter-protest had the slogan “No Place For Hate.”
Steve Cooke of Teesside People’s Assembly said: “A good number of Labour members came along to show their solidarity — which was, I believe, an encouraging sign that the Labour Party locally is engaging positively with protest movements and campaigns.”
Police set up a blockade to separate both groups but there were no major incidents during the march aside from a brief confrontation.
Stockton Labour councillor Louise Baldock said: “A handful of grubby-looking fascists turned up in Stockton today.
“Our large, peaceful, singing presence made it abundantly clear that our town is proud to be diverse and united.”
Speakers at the anti-fascist rally included Barbara Campbell, Stockton North CLP women’s officer and a Unite union activist, Stand Up To Racism organiser Yunus Bakhsh and GMB youth organiser Hannah Ruddick.
Ms Ruddick said: “Proud to stand in solidarity with the trade unionists from Unite and Unison and honoured to have been asked to say a few words as GMB. Stockton has no place for hate.”
Stand Up To Racism North East is meeting to launch a local group on Wednesday August 1 at 6.30pm in Newtown Community Resource Centre.
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