Today, 13th August 1977, 40 years ago was what became know as 'The Battle of Lewisham'.
The 'National front', a racist political party which hid behind a façade of respectability, had a policy of organising provocative and intimidating marches in areas with a large ethnic minority population. They did so from behind a strong wall of protective police officers.
When they announced a march through Lewisham, the local community mobilised to prevent them; the 500 or so fascists were confronted by about 4000 local people from all ethnic groups, determined to stop them from marching.
Despite the efforts of the Police, the march did not take place. The civil disturbances were to continue into the night.
It was the first time since 'The Battle of Cable Street' in 1936, that a march like this had been stopped. It was a great victory, although similar marches were to continue for over 15 years afterwards.
What was clear was that where a community is united and prepared to meet force with force, fascists could be stopped in their tracks. From that time on, marches like Lewisham never took place without firm antifascist opposition.
Yesterday in Charlottesville, a fascist demonstration took place accompanied with great violence, which resulted in the death of one of the counter demonstrators.
These things are always very symbolic; it followed a decision by the authorities to remove a statue of General Robert E. Lee, rename a park and a number of streets, all of which celebrated The Confederacy and the cause of slavery in the American Civil War.
Just as in Lewisham, what is clear is that where a community is united and prepared to stand up against Racism, it is possible to bring about change. It isn't a quick process, it isn't easy, but it is the only way.
Charlottesville is the first step in a long journey to remove the symbols of oppression from the South and to end the control that a tiny group of racists have over a whole community in certain southern states.
We must stand shoulder to shoulder with all of those prepared to make a stand against these dangerous forces.
(a don't stop till you drop production)
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