On Monday the 7th of January, a group of men allegedly led by Lee Scheres (a.k.a. Lee Baylan), sought to disrupt a meeting of the Socialist Party in Leeds as they discussed strategies for LGBT liberation.
Forcing their way into the event, the group stole members’ notes, papers and minutes before eventually being removed from the pub. Lee also live-streamed the event via the page ‘Antifa Public Watch 2’.
This followed several threats by Lee and other far-right activists to disrupt events, political meetings, venues and bars associated with anti-fascism, workers’ organisations, alternative music, and the LGBT and Queer Community in Leeds over the last 9 months.
Leeds Anti-Fascist Network express our Solidarity to everyone at these threatened meetings and events, and to the staff of the venues, who have been also directly threatened.
These events show how quickly the real face of far-right and fascist direct action in Leeds could take hold, threatening the ability of the Labour movement, the Left and alternative spaces to organise.
This must be taken seriously. If the Left does not challenge the right, that can only mean that they grow in confidence and that has serious potential of real physical harm.
Attacks on the Left, the Labour Movement, minorities and alternative spaces are part of the DNA of fascism and that is nothing new.
Last week, members of Britain First and EDL, attending UK far-right’s supposed ‘yellow vest’ movement in Manchester racially abused, harassed and attempted to intimidate pickets from the RMT Union. This follows last year’s attack on a number of RMT activists and officials.
While the ‘Gilets Jaunes’ in France is a radical mass social movement fighting for improvements in people’s living standards, the Manchester ‘yellow vest’ protest was just 50 of the same old fascist dregs in the UK. Rather than challenge the rich and powerful, the boot boys for the capitalist class, the far-right seek to attack working class organizations and spread their politics of fear and bigotry, as shown by their actions on that day.
In face of these threats there is a solidarity mobilisation supporting the RMT in their ongoing strike at Leeds Train Station on Saturday 19th January from 9am.
RMT Pickets will be from 8-11 around the entrances to the Station and we encourage you to join us in support for RMT’s ongoing strike action in Leeds.
Leeds Anti-Fascist Network is also calling on all anti-fascists to oppose the ‘Yellow Vest’ protest in Leeds scheduled for 12 noon in Leeds City Centre on the same day.
As in Manchester, this event is a cynical attempt by the far-right activists behind ‘Antifa Public Watch 2’ to capitalise on the coverage of the French social movement.
The ‘yellow vest’ demonstration planned for the 19th January is just the latest in a line of pathetic attempts by the far-right in Yorkshire to take the streets in Leeds, following the last two ‘Free Tommy’ mobilisations in June.
Details about the ‘Yellow Vest’ march are yet to be confirmed so for now, watch this space for updates.
More updates should be available via the LAFN page, or this event. Leeds anti-fascists will also be hosting a discussion meeting on Wednesday 16th, with speakers describing the situation in Greece, as well as plans for the upcoming mobilisation.
Down in London, this Saturday will also see a demo in solidarity with Russian anti-fascists, as well as a fundraiser in the evening, or if you’re based anywhere covered by Northern Rail there should be a local picket line you can visit. You can also show solidarity by donating to the RMT’s strike fund.
Other relevant upcoming events: the Chav Solidarity book tour will be visiting Machynlleth on the 16th, Shrewsbury on the 17th, Leeds on February 7th and then other Northern dates into Feb. Action for Trans Health are holding a fundraiser in London on the 17th. Couriers in Bristol are going out on strike on Friday 18th, and picketing at a McDonald’s. Other events going on over the weekend include a United Voices of the World pre-strike meeting in London on Saturday the 19th, and then on Sunday 20th there’s a Netpol meeting about masking up in London, another for people to get involved in London’s Rebel City newspaper, a Norwich Anarchist Communist Group meeting on the German Revolution, and a Yorkshire Campaign Against Prisons event for people to write objections to the proposed new mega-prison for Yorkshire – see here for more info about how to submit your own objection.
Next week, low-paid outsourced staff at the Ministry of Justice and Department for Business will be striking together on the 22nd, with MoJ workers staying out till the 23rd. You can donate to their strike fund here. The 23rd will also see people gathering to oppose a fancy arms industry dinner in London. On Saturday 26th, there’s a launch party for the new games industry union, Games Workers Unite, in London, a No War But Class War meeting in Dorking, and the third annual Derry Radical Bookfair.
Right at the end of the month, there’s part 1 of a “the meaning of anarchism” series in Nottingham on the 28th and an RMT demo in solidarity with tube cleaners on the 29th.
Further ahead still, early February sees Leicester People’s Uni hosting an ACG discussion on visions of a society without government on the 2nd, the United Voices of the World having a party for their fifth anniversary in London that evening, and then on the 4th there’s a call for people to get down to Chelmsford Crown Court for the sentencing of the Stansted 15, as well as part 2 of the “meaning of anarchism” series in Nottingham. Cleaners at a posh-sounding Christian school in London who’ve organised through the grassroots union CAIWU will be striking against cuts and for a living wage on Feb 6th, and the Angry Workers of the World are looking to organise regular discussion meetings, with the first meeting being on Thursday, 7th of February, at 7:00pm at MayDay Rooms, 88 Fleet Street, EC4Y 1DH, discussing Mike Davis’ text ‘Old Gods, New Enigmas’.
Finally, just to plug a few more “review of 2018” type things, the Angry Workers of the World are always worth reading, and for a more US anarchist take, Crimethinc’s review of the year is also up now. You can also listen to this conversation between them and It’s Going Down for a more indepth take on their perspective.