On Saturday supporters of Tommy Robinson, recalled to prison last month for breaching the terms of a suspended sentence, attempted to demonstrate in Leeds to demand his release. Hoping for a repeat of the 1st June demonstration in the city, their numbers fell well short of that, topping out at around 150. The police, having been caught off-guard by the previous demonstration, had called in extra support ahead of time and contained them at their meeting point by the courts.
Leeds Anti-Fascist Network were out on the streets at short notice to counter the racist demonstration and to build support ahead of a further pro-Tommy demo planned for the 7th July. Reportedly a planned Stand Up To Racism counter-demo was called off, meaning if Leeds AFN had not been out Tommy’s supporters would have been unopposed and likely allowed to parade their hatred around the city again.
While the numbers yesterday will have been a disappointment for the far-right, we must not become complacent and we cannot rely on the state to deal with a movement so symbiotic with its own ends. For more information on the 7th of July, please follow us on Facebook and find our event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/2153130104922289
Tommy’s recall to prison, and the issue of grooming gangs, is being weaponised by the far-right to rebuild, leaning heavily on the idea that the state has silenced Tommy and that his incarceration is a free speech issue. We are not cheerleaders for the state, the prison system or the law, but the Free Tommy movement has already revealed itself for the racist and Islamophobic initiative it is – and it cannot be allowed to divide our communities.