Thousands march to commemorate 80th anniversary of anti-fascist battle | Refinery29

Whitechapel Road, midday. The East End is no stranger to noise, activity and occasional chaos; a hub of street markets and hot food that’s been home to a mix of ethnic communities for centuries. But where once herds of livestock caused congestion on the main thoroughfare, yesterday it was thousands of Londoners armed to the hilt with banners and flares, shouting ‘Never Again, No Pasaran!’ who were the ones stopping traffic. The crowds had come to march in celebration of the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street, when the Jewish community prevented Oswald Mosley and his British Union of Fascists from marching through the East End. The successful defeat of Mosley and his Blackshirt troops was the most important anti-fascist victory to have taken place on British soil; a defining moment in time when working class people and immigrant communities came together to reject racism from their neighbourhood.

Crowds began to assemble at 11am in Altab Ali Park, a place named in tragic remembrance of a British Bangladeshi textile worker who was murdered on 4 May 1978 in a racially motivated killing. Ali’s death marked another brutal chapter of racism and intolerance in London’s East End – but one that also mobilised a community to come together and march for change in the spirit of their forebears. In the warm autumn sunshine, a celebratory spirit prevailed as the park filled with a diverse mix of trade unionists, anti-racism groups, Labour societies and Jewish and Muslim communities, who chanted and cheered as an assembly of speakers including Rushanara Ali MP and Frances O’Grady roused the crowd to action.

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