"THE BOMBINGS were a terrible outrage. But it's magnificent to see young and old, gay and straight, black and white standing together." Those were the words of Terry Carter, a 75 year old ex print worker, as he greeted thousands of protesters converging on London's Trafalgar Square last Saturday to protest at the horrific bombing campaign. Terry, along with 4,000 trade unionists, gathered in Trafalgar Square to celebrate May Day.
Around 500 people marched from Soho, scene of Friday's murderous bombing, to join the May Day rally. The Soho marchers entered Trafalgar Square carrying Anti Nazi League placards and chanting, "Black and white, gay and straight, unite against the men of hate." They were greeted with a huge cheer. No sooner had the march from Soho arrived than over 2,000 more people arrived in Trafalgar Square. They had marched from Brixton, south London, in protest against the bombings and the Nazis. Trafalgar Square was awash with trade union, anti-Nazi and community group banners. People were determined to show that they were not going to be bombed off the streets.
Helena Morris came from Ipswich to join the Soho demonstration. "I phoned round all my friends as soon as I heard about the bomb," she told Socialist Worker. "I felt so angry and so sad about what had happened. The bombers are just a few individuals, but as a lesbian I know there is prejudice which is built up by some of the press and some politicians which encourages warped people." Tim Woodward from Tottenham said, "I have been really impressed by the sense of unity in response to this outrageous attack. I have never spoken much to the people in the flat next door to me, and I have always thought they were a little disapproving because they know I am gay. But this morning they came round and checked out that I was all right. They were as angry as anyone could be about the bombers."
Right across Britain the bombings have sent a wave of shock and fear through communities, as people wondered how anyone could commit such outrages, and worried at who could be the next target. And everywhere the reaction has also been one of people coming together-black, white, Asian, Jewish, gay-to stand up against the Nazis. In towns across Britain people out protesting and petitioning over the bombings won a marvellous response on Saturday, with people signing statements to express their anger and taking anti-Nazi stickers to make their stance clear.
In south London's Brixton shoppers cheered Saturday's march as it passed where the first nail bomb exploded, injuring dozens three weeks ago. The protest brought people from every section of the local population together. African immigrants marched with Irish people. Many people on the march and to its side were visibly moved by the sight of what one protester called "this rainbow tide which will sweep away the Nazis, bigotry and racism". A group of elderly Jamaican men came out of their local pub, applauded the march and shouted, "Black and white unite. Gay and straight unite."
|Picture: JESS HURD|
|MARCHING FROM the scene of the Soho bomb to Trafalgar Square|
The Lambeth council branch of the UNISON union called the march. Shop steward Janet Noble told the rally that launched the march, "We called this march because we are a union. We represent all workers. We refuse to let the bombs and the Nazis divide us." Angela Mason from the lesbian and gay lobbying organisation Stonewall won applause when she said, "I have spent years being called part of a sick, diseased minority. Well, we know the real sick diseased minority are those who would plant bombs to destroy a society which is becoming more tolerant."
Some passers by told Socialist Worker that the bombings had made them scared to go out. They were fantastically pleased that people were marching to banish fear in favour of defiance of the Nazis, racism and anti-gay bigotry. Sean, a council worker, said, "The police could prevent such atrocities more easily if they stopped spending time entrapping gay men for having sex in public places and used the resources against those who are a real menace to society." Both last Saturday's demonstrations and the wider reaction across the country showed that people were not going to be cowed by these terrible bombs and are sickened by racism and bigotry.
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