Meeting the EDL

43441136281_1889a558bf_o (1)On the 14th July I went to photograph the pro-Trump demo that was taking place in Whitehall in reaction to the anti-Trump demos which took place the day before. The pro-Trump demo had merged with another EDL demo, which was taking place in support of the former EDL leader, who was at the time in jail for contempt of court.

Little did, I know what I had let myself in for. The two demos merged and I was faced with a snarling group of EDL supporters who were up for a fight.

Pro-Trump Demo

They were met by a phalanx of Anti-Fa and Union demonstrators who were preventing them from entering Parliament Square where there was a counter demonstration taking place.

Anti-Fa Demo July 18

The Police were keeping the two sides apart with Police horses in ‘riot gear’

Pro-Trump Demo Pro-Trump Demo
Once the police had separated the two groups, I moved to photograph the ‘Free Tommy Robinson’/EDL demo which the police had corralled at the Trafalgar Square end of Whitehall.

Pro-Trump Demo

This demo was a threatening experience, with anti-muslim rhetoric and symbols being on show and front and centre of the staging

Pro-Trump Demo

 

As you can see from the image, there is a pic of Donald Trump holding a head of pig on to which has been superimposed an image of the muslim mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. The demo seemed to see him as real bogie man and villain.

I wanted to stay at the demo with the rest of the photographers to record what was going on, however one of the demonstrators, shown in the first pic punched me in the face. The police advised that they couldn’t guarantee my safety and advised me to leave the area. After some thought, I decided to take the police advice.

My impression of the demo was one of threat and pent up anger. The EDL supporters were terrified of meeting ‘Leftists’ – this being the insult that they poured on my head and also used later in the trolling I received on FB when I talked about my experiences.  Whilst the punch in the face hurt, what I could really see was an anger, which was directed at many of the things that liberals hold dear. It was inarticulate but it was palpable.

The experience has made me consider where we are as a nation. I had studied and read alot about the actions of the Nazi’s in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s before they seized power. I have read about gutter violence and intimidation. My observation was that this was exactly what I experienced.

In the 1930s working people stood together at Cable Street to prevent Mosley and his hordes marching through a Jewish quarter of London. Perhaps the time is coming when democrats, workers and liberals will have to do it again.

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