Saturday, 20 February 2016
In response, Preston City Council, Preston Trade Unions Council and Preston Mosques held a "One Preston, One Community" rally with music, speeches and free food provided by the mosques. An officer of my former public sector union helped to organize the event together with the national Unite Against Fascism campaign. Several hundred people, including families with children, attended and a Muslim community leader proposed that this become an annual event. We occupied the central square of the city.
The EDL, escorted by the police, held a brief rally in a nearby side street, arriving long after us and leaving long before us. We saw the tops of their banners above a police barrier. We were not visible to them because of the barrier but made sure that we were audible. The Leader of Preston City Council and other Councillors of his political party went as a group onto the stage. He spoke of refugees who have recently been welcomed into Preston and have become members of the local community. He also linked this to the welcoming of Jewish refugees in the 1930's.
We were able to return home after an enjoyable event, confident that the EDL message of hate and division had been decisively rejected.