Stand Up To Racism and the Football Lads Alliance
There are now four weeks to go until the Football Lads Alliance (FLA) protest in London on Saturday 7 October.
The FLA says that the protest will oppose all forms of extremist attacks. So why has Stand Up To Racism raised concerns over the demo?
We have stated time after time that we do not believe that all of those who plan to attend the demo on 7 October are racists, still less do we think most want anything to do with the far right.
Because people are football supporters does not mean they should be smeared as racists, particularly at a time when supporters are more diverse than ever.
But we know that some of those who were prominent on the 24 June demonstration in London, far from being opposed to all extremism, have a long history of racism and Islamophobia.This is something that the FLA and anyone intending to join the 7 October demonstration has to look at seriously.
Toni Bugle, a former Nazi candidate (for the English Democrats — ex Nazi BNP) spoke on the demonstration on 24 June. Bugle also heads up “Mothers Against Radical Islam and Sharia (MARIAS)”.
She has a long record as welcoming support from the far right. In an online video she opened the door for Nazis to support a MARIAS event back in 2015 by saying, “I don’t care what you are, I don’t care if you’re Britain First, I don’t care if you’re English Defence League, I don’t even care if you’re National Front.”
How can someone like this be on a demo against extremism?
Another speaker on 24 June was Mohan Singh, who had spoken alongside former EDL leader Tommy Robinson two weeks previously. There were repeated references to “Muslim extremism”, a well-known code for attacking Muslims.
There were former EDL and Combat 18 thugs, and Nazi British National Party members on the march.
The FLA has made statements that there will be no racism and no violence on 7 October. But what do some other figures who’ve been prominent on FLA Facebook page think about that?
For example Frank Portinari is often on the Football Lads Alliance Facebook page. Frank Portinari, a convicted gun-runner, led the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) group in London. The UDA was a paramilitary organisation that carried out random murders and was a proscribed terrorist group after 1992. Portinari joined the UDA in the 1980s, becoming its London organiser in 1988. Portinari led violent protests at Irish republican marches in London. In 1993 he was convicted for his part in an arms smuggling operation in the Midlands. When he was released from prison, Portinari fell out with his former allies in Combat 18. He sided with Charlie Sergeant who was exposed in 1998 as a police informer spying on Loyalist terrorists in England.
John Meighan, the leading figure in the FLA, has made some strange statements over recent days online.
Firstly he seemed to claim that anti-racists like Stand Up To Racism had failed to oppose the terror attacks in Manchester, Westminster or London Bridge and so were “extremists” and would be “opposed”.
But Stand Up To Racism organised solidarity events in towns and cities across Britain in the wake of these attacks to argue that communities needed to stand in unity and not let the attacks divide us.
We also organised events across Britain in the wake of the attack on Finsbury Park Mosque.
Leeds Stand Up To Racism vigil after Manchester attack, one of dozens we organised across Britain.
Meighan also claimed that he had offered to meet Stand Up To Racism through the police in the run up to 7 October and that Stand Up To Racism had refused. If the FLA was serious about meeting anti-racists it would announce that far right figures will not be taking part in the march or will continue to have access to the FLA (moderated) Facebook page. But it would also denounce Toni Bugle and Mohan Singh, say they aren’t welcome at FLA events, and ensure that Muslims aren’t presented as the “enemy within”.
Lastly some people have stated online that Stand Up To Racism has called a “counter demo” against the FLA protest on 7 October.Again that’s not true.
We’ve said that Stand Up To Racism wants to take a positive anti-racist message onto the streets of central London on 7 October. If the FLA are good to their word and racism is not to be tolerated on the demo that day, why on earth should there be a problem for the FLA with anti-racists being in Central London?
The FLA have to address the fact that the far right will try to use the 7 October demo to recruit and to grow. SUtR vigil after Manchester attack bwIf the FLA are against all extremism they have to make a clear stand against those who have links with or are members of racist and far right groups.
Download leaflet to use at grounds around Britain