In celebration of the 85th anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street, marking the notorious fight between anti-fascists and the police sent by local authorities to protect a fascist march, LAFA East, with the help of the rest of LAFA, organised a Film Night at the London Action Resource Centre in East London. Many people, including locals, passers-by and militants, joined for a night of film screenings, drinks, food and chats.
To advertise it, we leafleted the official anniversary demo and had a good number of people turn up from it. A few of them said they were happy to find an event that wasn’t just stuck in the past but actually continued the struggle today. We feel we hit a nerve by pointing out the continuity between the fascist’s attacks against the immigrant population and the ongoing process of gentrification carried out by local authorities and investors, which is doing what Mosley and his goons never could: making the area unwelcoming to working class and immigrant communities.
During the screening of the films, it was pointed out many times that the actual battle wasn’t between anti-fascists and fascists, but between anti-fascists and the police sent to protect the fascists. It is clear the police are not here to protect us and they never have been. So although when the far-right tries to divide us by spreading hatred and division, we will respond by taking the streets and showing them there is no space for them in our neighbourhoods, like we did recently in Croydon, we will also fiercely oppose the PCSC Bill which is seeking to increase police powers to criminalise protests and erode the freedom and safety of minority communities. As well as supporting initiatives that makes our communities stronger and less reliant on the police and the state, such as our own feminist self-defence classes or Sisters Uncut’s police intervention training.
From our conversations and reflections from this event is also clear that the struggle against the gentrification and policing of our communities is central to our work as anti-fascists. And not acknowledging this would be betraying the memory and legacy of those who fought in the Battle of Cable Street. This is something we will take to heart in the future.
At the same time, it’s important to remember that resistance to such forms of oppression don’t always come in the shape of direct action (even if it’s the one that often receives the most attention). Coming together, connecting with each other, building up community and community spirit, sharing meaningful and politically relevant conversations… can all be powerful antidotes to the struggles capitalism and widespread fascist and conservative tendencies force us to face on a daily basis. Where such systemic oppression, which shows up with many different faces and flavours, seeks to keep us apart, alone, helpless, depressed and disconnected, we want to call for moments of unity, solidarity and connection as a reminder that we are not alone but that the struggles that we all share are many more than what most of us think.
Cooking together, sharing a meal, getting to know someone who we haven’t met before, exchanging ideas and reflections: these extremely simple actions can be a seed for something that has a lot potential for growing from small social moments to a wider awareness that united we can break the chains of what keeps us relegated to our own bubbles. And to build a society that is caring and, more than ever, human.
If you want to get involve with London Anti-fascist Assembly and the work we do, get in contact and start taking action with us now.