An EDL supporter. (Photo by Lee Harper)
You sometimes have to wonder what a typical EDL member sees when they look in the mirror. Apparently ignoring the fact that the Western world is run almost exclusively by white, Christian men, they seem to view themselves as the one remaining bastion of proper patriotic values – brave defenders of pubs, greasy spoons and the availability of pork products in Britain's supermarkets.
Their latest noble act, however, had nothing to do with holding off Sharia law or standing up to the Muslim militias who make up a terrifying 4.8 percent of the country's population. Instead, last weekend, they fearlessly confronted a teenage girl who wanted to stage an anti-racism gig in her hometown of Ipswich.
Lauren Bulaitis, a 16-year-old student, had organised a Love Music Hate Racism gig to rally support against the EDL after they marched through Ipswich earlier this year. Always keen to prove that they're not racist – but just ill-informed bigots – members of Tommy Robinson's hate brigade arrived at the pub in their EDL fleeces, causing the manager to cancel the gig for fear of violence breaking out.
After Tommy Robinson was recently awarded a complimentary Selfridges steak dinner because his friend had been refused service in the department store, the gig's cancellation is the latest in a short list of EDL victories to hit the headlines. I got in touch with Lauren to see how she feels about being involved in keeping the the group's winning streak going.
The EDL celebrate their victory over the 16-year-old school-girl.
VICE: Hi Lauren. So, your gig had to be cancelled. What happened?
Lauren Bulaitis: I'd organised a Love Music Hate Racism gig, which was set to be very successful. Then, on the day of the gig – Sunday the 15th of September – the venue got threatened by attacks from the EDL and the gig was pulled. It was a huge shock.
Where were the police?
The police were the ones who advised the venue to pull out of the show. They completely let us down – they allowed the racists to do what they want. It's disgusting. They didn't say "We can protect you," or, "We can help," they just wanted to pull the show. It's really worrying.
How were the threats made?
They called the pub, which is a quiet family pub, and said, "We're going to attack the pub if you let the event take place later on today." I laughed at first because it sounded ridiculous.
Were you prepared to go ahead with the gig anyway?
Definitely. The EDL don't scare me at all. However, saying that, I completely understand why the manager had to cancel it. It's her job to look after everyone on the premises. But if the decision was down to me, I wouldn't have let the EDL win.
More EDL supporters. (Photo by Henry Langston)
Will you reschedule the gig?
Oh yes, it's being rescheduled. The second the police told me I couldn't do the gig that day, I knew we were going to carry on. I've had a really good response from everyone, so we're going to reorganise it and do it bigger.
Cool. What makes you choose organising gigs to tackle racism, as opposed to a march or something else?
The young music scene in Ipswich is absolutely brilliant. We've got some brilliant bands, and there are gigs every weekend at the Steamboat and everyone goes to them. Everyone has their own ways of thinking, but we can all come together and celebrate anti-racism through music. I know people would much rather get involved in a gig rather than walking a mile around town protesting.
Finally, do you have a message for the EDL?
Last Sunday, racism in Ipswich was given a green light. They might think they won, but this setback has made us stronger and we're not going to let them win ever again here. It's a battle, but it's not going to be lost by the anti-racists. Nobody knew about the EDL here, but now people have realised. It's such a small place and we haven't got room for them.
Follow Jak on Twitter: @jak_th
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