Anti-fascist counter-protest organised in opposition to SDL

Alasdair Clark

Anti-fascists will hold a counter-protest against Scottish Defence League [SDL] demonstrators on Sunday in Edinburgh

THE EXTREMIST Scottish Defence League have been accused by anti-fascist campaigners of “cynically exploiting” the death of a homeless veteran after plans emerged of their demonstration outside First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s official residence, Bute House, in Edinburgh on Sunday. 

Announcing the demonstration online, the SDL claim that the Scottish Government allowed the veteran, Darren Greenfield, to die on the street in favour of housing refugees as part of a government target to provide homes for 2,000, which was met three years early.

Veterans charities have denounced the SDL protest, and Greenfield’s sister, Asten Robertson, told the Sunday Herald that he had refused help: “We tried to help him. My husband managed to get him a room in a veterans’ residence in Edinburgh. It was just too regimented there for him and he ended up back on the streets.”

Also speaking to the Herald in response to the SDL demonstration, Cabinet Secretary for veterans Keith Brown MSP said: “Exploiting issues of genuine concern for racist and extremist ends is utterly deplorable. This kind of attention-seeking behaviour and the SDL’s hateful activities will be firmly opposed by communities across Edinburgh and Glasgow as well as across the whole of Scotland.”

Formed in 2009, research by campaign group Hote Not Hate says the SDL is a sister organisation of the English Defence League which was originally formed by football hooligan groups. The SDL was last seen in Perth in 2017, protesting the building of a mosque. 

READ MORE: Anti-fascist demonstration outnumbers Scottish Defence League protest

The Perth demonstration saw a handful of SDL protestors vastly outnumbered as hundreds of anti-fascists including politicians and trade unionists marched in opposition to the group. 

Organising the counter-protest, anti-fascist group Edinburgh Against the Racist SDL said they would follow the “fine tradition” of anti-fascist organising which has marginalised the SDL’s hate in the past. On their event page, they said: “Unlike the vast majority of people who have sent condolences and messages of support to the Greenfield family, the fascists of the SDL, have cynically tried to blame refugees for Mr Greenfield’s death. Their weasel words will find no echo in the city but their racist scapegoating is to be opposed.

“Only last week in Doncaster, was the EDL, in their own words, ‘humiliated’, by UAF and other anti-fascists.”  Edinburgh Against the Racist SDL

“UAF [Unite Against Fascism] Edinburgh are mobilising to ensure that the SDL’s hate continues to be marginalised. The SDL, like the English Defence League, are small, poisonous sects. Only last week in Doncaster, was the EDL, in their own words, ‘humiliated’, by UAF and other anti-fascists.”

Police Scotland issued a statement in advance of the protest, with a spokesperson saying: “We are aware of a planned demonstration and potential counter demonstration in Edinburgh on Sunday 4th February 2018. There will be an appropriate policing presence to help ensure that this passes without incident and that disruption to the public is minimal.”

Picture courtesy of Chris 

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