On Saturday, about 20 hooligans from the far-right Polish group known as Zjednoczeni Emigranci UK (ZE) – which means Emigrants United – attacked a festival called Music Day in Tottenham's Markfield Park. In response, Unite Against Fascism (UAF) organised a peaceful vigil outside Tottenham Town Hall yesterday, under the slogan, "Nazis Out of Haringey".
The thugs had turned Music Day into a battleground, turning up to what was billed as a family event and throwing glass bottles and flares around. The vigil was comparatively calm, and had a nice atmosphere, albeit charged with a sense of anger that a load of violent fascists had taken up residence in the local area.
In fact, some people were very angry. A young woman with her two children who did not wish to be named, wondered, “Why the fuck are these people here? This is a multicultural place, I am African and my children’s father is European, these people don’t represent us and we want them kicked out of here.”
People had also travelled from other areas. A guy called Kyle told me, “I’m from Waltham Forest but I’m here today because wherever fascists are, that’s where I’m at.” Which sounded a bit like he partied with fascists all the time, but given his presence at an anti-fascist rally I think he meant he would go anywhere to oppose them.
A bunch of Polish anti-fascists had also turned up to denounce their fellow countrymen. I spoke to one called Greg, who told me that he was from Division 161 – an informal Polish anti-fascist group. “We are often at anti fascist demonstrations, whether it’s the EDL or BNP. Today, I feel even more angry than before because these are fascists who are coming to England for better jobs, maybe their economic situation isn’t great and they’re coming here and fucking it up like they did in Poland,” he said, sounding a little bit like a UKIP candidate. “That’s why I’m here with all my friends and we have a really strong feeling about it.”
I asked him what Division 161 planned to do about ZE. “First of all, we want to inform the local communities about it, because I don’t think people see the problem – they look like normal Polish lads in the park, but a lot of them are Polish hooligans who are linked to the far right.” I couldn’t help but think that Greg’s suggestion might lead to more random suspicion of Polish people who happen to be hanging out in parks. Still, it was nice to see the Polish community taking a stand against ZE.
After a few speeches, a contingent of more militant anti-fascists – some of them in face masks – broke away from the UAF rally outside Tottenham Town Hall. They headed down to the scene of the attack, waving their banners and chanting anti-fascist slogans up Tottenham High Road.
Loud chants of: “Alerta, Alerta, Antifascista!” went up and black banners fluttered through the air. It felt like a ragtag band of soldiers on their way to the front, and I couldn’t help but wonder if people were hoping some ZE members were hanging around in the park so that they could dish out some payback for Saturday.
Instead, they came across a small child, her innocence putting all this fighting into perspective and causing the revenge-bent anti-fascists to break into a smile.
With no ZE members making their presence known, they settled on combing the area for ZE graffiti and stickers, covering it over with their own stickers.
“This is our land, this is our park now. This is antifa territory,” beamed one of the protesters. Any tree-climbing fascist goons had better watch out.
UAF have called for a bigger march in the park on Saturday and there’s a chance of a re-enactment of the battle of Music Day. Alternatively, ZE might have noted the public reaction to their attack and stay away. Either way, it seems like a turf war between fascists and anti-fascists is shaping up in Tottenham.
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