by Sandro Mezzadra Liberté, liberté! This chant – belted out by 49 refugees and migrants in the moment...
On Saturday 13th October 2018, a coalition of feminist and anti-fascist groups, including Women’s Strike Assembly and Plan C, were involved in organising a feminist bloc against the planned Democratic Football Lads Alliance (DFLA) march in London. The bloc was part of a unity demonstration, bringing together an even broader group of anti-fascist and anti-racist campaigners and trade unions determined to combat far right groups marching on our streets. The demonstration successfully prevented the DFLA from completing their march route.
Before the demo
In the lead up to the demonstration, the Feminist Anti-Fascist coalition (or FAF) held a series of large assemblies (60-100 people each time) in London to discuss how anti-fascism could be feminist. These assemblies brought in explicitly feminist groups to combat the far right’s co-option of the narrative on sexual violence and paedophilia. The large audiences and compelling discussion helped us galvanise and mobilise support for the day. One assembly was held in Liverpool as part of The World Transformed festival. The session, called ‘On Violence’, discussed the ways in which violence impacts women and non-binary people’s lives every day and how this could be combatted on a far wider, systemic level. There were also several assemblies in other cities such as Birmingham, Brighton and Leicester in order to build support, discuss important issues and mobilise feminists and anti-fascists from around the country.
FAF also asked groups to sign up and support the mobilisation leading to a wide array of organisations pulling together, from Sisters Uncut to the Easton Cowgirls Football Club to the Asian Mums Network and many more. We were able to pull in a large number of diverse groups who may not have ordinarily supported more traditional anti-fascist mobilisation.
We were determined that the action should be joyfully militant and accessible to as many people as possible. The role of care and social reproduction cannot be overstated in this aim. We had a dedicated social reproduction team made up primarily of men, who were there to cook and to do childcare for those participating in the action. The team distributed care packages with sandwiches and water to everyone on the demo who wanted them. They ran a creche at a location separate from the main action, with a full day of children’s activities, so that parents and primary carers, especially mothers, were able to participate more fully. They also created a safe, chilled out and no-alcohol space for people to go after the demonstration was finished.
On the demo
As for the mobilisation itself – as we unfurled our enormous, bold, colourful and badass banner proclaiming: No rape, no racism, no silence to violence – women and non-binary people led the way on a vibrant march to confront the DFLA. The march started at Portland Place, and marched down towards the DFLA march, holding a line near Pall Mall which was on the route of the fascists march. We held a tight bloc with the front and side banners keeping everyone in close formation so as to enable those with less experience or facing more risks to safely participate. The police edged us down towards the DFLA march, and we held ground against the DFLA blocking their march and forcing them to alter their route. The march then continued to Trafalgar Square, past the DFLA ranks hurling confused abuse as we eventually passed them and finished by crossing Waterloo Bridge. The lads and lasses from FLAF formed a squad and confronted DFLA groups away from the demonstration throughout the day. It’s exciting to see other attempts to bring more working class people into anti-fascism. We clearly outnumbered the DFLA on the unity demonstration. Our bloc marched through the streets garnering so much attention that many members of the public came to join in! Our message was strong and we were too. No pasaran!
Picture by www.facebook.com/FieldsofLightPhotography.