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Huge Bookmarks solidarity demo sees fascists chased away

A STRONG showing of solidarity with socialist booksellers Bookmarks easily saw off a handful of disruptive fascists at the weekend.

Hundreds of socialists, feminists and anti-racists thronged the central London bookshop and adjacent Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church on Saturday afternoon, listening to speakers call for a new mobilisation against the far right in the wake of a fascist attack on the shop a week before.

The crowd heard from Stand Up to Racism co-convener Weyman Bennett, Jewish Socialists’ Group’s David Rosenberg and former National Union of Teachers president Louise Regan — as well as dozens of messages of solidarity received from those who couldn’t be there, including 103-year-old Cable Street veteran and communist Max Levitas and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

“Half a dozen” far-right agitators, quickly identified by organisers as belonging to the so-called Democratic Football Lads’ Alliance, tried to film and provoke some of the attendees outside the church but were rapidly chased off by activists, including historian and author Louise Raw, who had earlier addressed the event.

Unite Against Fascism’s Paul Sillett told the Morning Star the fascists had “turned up and tried to intimidate people” and were a group who had “on occasion provided security for far-right outfit Generation Identity.

“They try to film people and then share their faces and names,” Mr Sillett said, pointing to Vinnie Sullivan’s Reality Report which targets left-wing events and shares camera footage “to set people up for assault.”

The group were quickly dealt with as Bookmarks had arranged a “proper stewarding operation” following Saturday August 4’s attack.

Ms Raw said “when the DFLA declined to leave, several of us chased them across the road and away.

“I was particularly impressed with the anti-fascist sisters — particularly those who chased them off in summer frocks and flip flops!”

She stressed: “What’s important is the tremendous success of the day, hundreds upon hundreds of people coming together to stand up to fascism.”

Ms Raw was one of several speakers to summon up the spirit of Cable Street in her address to the event, which heard Ruth Levitas read out a message on behalf of her uncle Max, who was arrested in 1934 for whitewashing No To Fascism on a plinth at Trafalgar Square and fought two years later at Cable Street, where communists and Jews of the East End defeated the British Union of Fascists led by Oswald Mosley.

“The struggle continues,” Mr Levitas had told her. “We fight on. It’s a long struggle.”

Abortion Wars: The Fight for Reproductive Rights author Judith Orr said that while the election of Donald Trump had emboldened fascists, the outlook in Britain was hopeful “because of Jeremy Corbyn’s stunning victory.

“People want something different. That’s only going to be won by the collective struggle of our class,” she said.

A giant We Are Corbyn banner adorned one wall of the church hall and each mention of the Labour leader’s name drew applause from the audience, with Mr Bennett and Mr Rosenberg among those pointing to his unparalleled record of standing up to fascism and racism.

Mr Rosenberg read out a message in which Mr Corbyn said the attack on Bookmarks showed how frightened fascists are “by ideas for a different world of social justice and equality.”

The day “went fantastically well,” Bookmarks manager David Gilchrist told the Morning Star. “Turnout was huge. It’s like what we’ve experienced all week, solidarity visits, people buying books.

“It’s a reflection of how seriously people are taking the situation.

“There were old friends and lots of new faces — this is the beginning of the unity we need to fight the fascists.”

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