Waltham Forest Echo

Waltham Forest Echo

Help celebrate the tenth anniversary of a historic win against racism

Sophie Selby, from We Are Waltham Forest, calls for footage and photos of a huge moment in local history

Hero for Help celebrate the tenth anniversary of a historic win against racism
Counter-protestors in Walthamstow fought off the far-right EDL almost a decade ago (credit: We Are Waltham Forest)
01 July 2022

Waltham Forest residents have a proud history of standing up to racism and fascism to defend our multicultural community - and we’re asking for your help to celebrate it.Waltham Forest residents have a proud history of standing up to racism and fascism to defend our multicultural community - and we’re asking for your help to celebrate it.

Back in September 2012, over 4,000 of us took to the streets to fight off a march by the far-right English Defence League, aimed at intimidating Walthamstow’s large Muslim population. Back in September 2012, over 4,000 of us took to the streets to fight off a march by the far-right English Defence League, aimed at intimidating Walthamstow’s large Muslim population. 

Organised by We Are Waltham Forest, our counter-protest not only massively out-numbered these thugs but sneakily out-manoeuvred them too, with a spontaneous sit-down protest that blocked their path and forced their retreat. Organised by We Are Waltham Forest, our counter-protest not only massively out-numbered these thugs but sneakily out-manoeuvred them too, with a spontaneous sit-down protest that blocked their path and forced their retreat. 

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of this historic victory on 1st September, we’re releasing a short documentary and are trying to hunt down more photographs and video footage from the day.To celebrate the tenth anniversary of this historic victory on 1st September, we’re releasing a short documentary and are trying to hunt down more photographs and video footage from the day.

This amazing local protest was seen as a significant nail in the coffin for the EDL, which started marauding across the country just a year after the 2008 financial crash. This amazing local protest was seen as a significant nail in the coffin for the EDL, which started marauding across the country just a year after the 2008 financial crash. 

They targeted multicultural areas like ours, exploiting the anger and fear created by the crash and worsened by Cameron and Clegg’s austerity government, and within a year were drawing thousands to their protests.They targeted multicultural areas like ours, exploiting the anger and fear created by the crash and worsened by Cameron and Clegg’s austerity government, and within a year were drawing thousands to their protests.

By the time the EDL tried to march through Walthamstow, it was the height of the London Olympics, an irony not lost on residents, who argued that the EDL whipping up hatred against Muslims did not align with the games’ diversity goals.By the time the EDL tried to march through Walthamstow, it was the height of the London Olympics, an irony not lost on residents, who argued that the EDL whipping up hatred against Muslims did not align with the games’ diversity goals.

Despite this, some local politicians at the time were not wholly supportive of our right to protest in defence of our community, arguing we should instead ignore the EDL.Despite this, some local politicians at the time were not wholly supportive of our right to protest in defence of our community, arguing we should instead ignore the EDL.

The residents who formed We Are Waltham Forest disagreed. As teachers, writers, parents, pensioners, youth workers, academics, carers, artists and trade unionists, we argued that “ignoring” those threatening and denigrating our community was impossible. The residents who formed We Are Waltham Forest disagreed. As teachers, writers, parents, pensioners, youth workers, academics, carers, artists and trade unionists, we argued that “ignoring” those threatening and denigrating our community was impossible. 

We could not leave the Muslim community isolated to endure these attacks. Fascism threatens all of us and history has shown you can’t remain silent. We knew we had to show how unified we were as a community and expose the racism of scapegoating Islam.We could not leave the Muslim community isolated to endure these attacks. Fascism threatens all of us and history has shown you can’t remain silent. We knew we had to show how unified we were as a community and expose the racism of scapegoating Islam.

To celebrate our incredible success, we’ve joined with local production company Napier Films to produce our documentary, which is more important than ever now that the Crime and Policing Bill threatens our right to protest. To celebrate our incredible success, we’ve joined with local production company Napier Films to produce our documentary, which is more important than ever now that the Crime and Policing Bill threatens our right to protest. 

We’re particularly keen to find footage or photos of the EDL marching up Forest Road and side streets like Farnan Avenue and of them being kettled at Blackhorse Road Tube station.We’re particularly keen to find footage or photos of the EDL marching up Forest Road and side streets like Farnan Avenue and of them being kettled at Blackhorse Road Tube station.

If you have photos or footage, please email wawfis10@gmail.comIf you have photos or footage, please email wawfis10@gmail.com