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ANTI-RACISTS launched a counter action today against a “repulsive” anti-refugee banner drop by white supremacists from a bridge in east London.
Gathering on the same overpass above the Blackwall Tunnel, around a dozen protesters dropped banners declaring: “Refugees are welcome,” as supporters tooted their horns in the traffic below.
The protest was held to oppose the actions of far-right activists on Tuesday who displayed banners reading: “Exit the 1951 UN refugee convention,” and “It’s all right to defend white nations,” alongside Union Jacks and St George’s flags from the flyover last Tuesday.
Among the group are known members of the far-right National Housing Party UK.
They made their sickening display just days after 27 people, including three children, died in the Channel while trying to cross to England.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan branded the individuals “racists,” adding that they “don’t speak for the vast majority of people in London.”
The anti-racist protesters, who are members of Stand Up to Racism, said today they were determined not to allow the “message of hate” to go unchallenged.
Harold Wilson from South East London Stand Up To Racism told the Morning Star: “They chose to show their displays in the wake of the 27 people who perished in the Channel crossing, and we didn’t want that to go unanswered.”
On the bridge, protesters chanted: “Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here,” to a chorus of tooting horns from passing traffic, with some drivers putting their fists out the window in support.
Mr Wilson said the level of support was “absolutely incredible.”
“It just reinforces that their views are a minority and people do have sympathy for those fleeing persecution and absolute desperation,” he said.
Another protester on the flyover, Roy Hobson, said: “When the Nazis came to this bridge the other day — that was an attack on the whole of London, and the whole of the UK. Under attack we fight back!”
Campaigners added that the government’s anti-immigration policies and rhetoric have emboldened the far right.
“The hostile environment promoted by [Home Secretary] Priti Patel and [Prime Minister] Boris Johnson has clearly given them the confidence to do this,” Mr Wilson said.
On the same day as the far-right banner drop, lifeboat crews in Hastings were reportedly blocked from entering the sea by an individual heard shouting anti-refugee abuse at the crew.
Stand up to Racism co-convener Weyman Bennett said: “There are hardcore Nazis at the heart of these attempts to destroy the rights of those fleeing war and persecution — rights that were agreed in the wake of the Nazi Holocaust.
“Refugees should be welcomed here. We must resist the racists and show our solidarity and humanity in the face of this hatred.”
Stand Up to Racism said the action was also held to show solidarity to the men, women and children who lost their lives in the Channel last month.
The tragedy was the largest loss of life in the Channel since records began.
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