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Opposing fascists in Lewisham 13th August 1977

In Uncategorized on August 12, 2017 by kmflett

The Battle of Lewisham 13th August 1977

13th August marks the 40th anniversary of the Battle of Lewisham, when the fascist National Front were stopped by anti-fascists from marching in the area of London around New Cross.

The NF’s provocative march came just months after the Battle of Wood Green when the fascists attempt to march had resulted in it being split in two by anti-fascists.

It was part of a strategy of tension by the fascists designed to whip up racist sentiment and show that they controlled the streets.

As events at Lewisham 40 years ago on Saturday underlined, they did not.

A coach load of anti-fascists left Wood Green tube station on the morning of 13th August and I was one of them.

Memory is a doubtful thing and Ive been at many anti-fascist protests over the years so one tends to blur into another.

The only real abiding memory I have of Lewisham is of at one point being in a group that had ended up on the wrong side of police lines. These days we’d probably have been arrested. In 1977 the police loaded us on to a London bus and told the driver to take us back over to the anti-fascist protest.

As often on such occasions there was a division between those who wanted to protest at the fascists and those who wanted to stop them. I would invariably be on the latter side ( and still would). This was before the Anti Nazi League was formed but the confrontation with the NF at Lewisham was certainly one of the motors for it.

The Observer has published a good account of what took place on the day:

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/aug/13/battle-of-lewisham-national-front-1977-far-right-london-police

It underlines that the NF chose to march in the area because they had been gathering local support in some quarters. It also points to the use by police of riot shields for the first time and the hardline tactics used against anti-fascists. In part these were likely to have been developed after the earlier Battle of Wood Green on 23rd April 1977.

There is one gap in the report. It notes that 4,000 protesters ‘turned up’. Of course they did not just turn up any more than the NF did. They were organised. Local churches and the Communist Party organised the morning march. The confrontation was certainly rooted in the local community but organised by the far left, the Socialist Worker and others, the Labour Party and anti-racists

As the Socialist Worker headlined after the event ‘we stopped the Nazis and we’ll do it again’.

Indeed, they should never pass.

Details of what took place and the 40th anniversary events are here:

http://www.gold.ac.uk/events/battle-of-lewisham/

As events at Charlottesville on 13th August 2017 remind 40 years on, there must never be a let up in physically opposing fascists.

 

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One Response to “Opposing fascists in Lewisham 13th August 1977”

  1. We need you here in the US sadly.

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