Unions across the region are joining forces in protest against the controversial anti-Islamic demonstration set to take place in Newcastle next week.
German right wing group Pediga plans to hold a demonstration on Saturday in the city’s Bigg Market.
But opposition Newcastle Unites plans a counter march beginning at Gallowgate and heading to Newgate Street.
Comedian and activist Russell Brand and Respect MP George Galloway have pledged their support to the anti-facist group.
Dozens of groups from across the region are backing Newcastle Unites, and organisers are now asking all unions across the country to strengthen their cause.
Newcastle councillor Dipu Ahad said:
“I urge all the unions in the country, to unite and support Newcastle Unites Against Pegida.
“I urge you all, who want to see a better future for our children, where we can coexist in peace, no matter what our race or religion. Let us start today, and not tomorrow as each and everyone of us has got a responsibility as humans.
“Our unity is our strength, and together we can eradicate all types of hate, no matter what.
“Too many times we focus on what divides us, which diverts the real issues. We’ve got a responsibility to combat evil, so I urge you all to stand up and be counted.”
The councillor said many groups had come forward voluntarily to support Newcastle Unites.
Just days ago Pegida were told by Newcastle United fans: “We’re black and white”.
The demonstration is planned for the same day as Newcastle face Aston Villa at St James Park, and NUFC Fans United put out the defiant message on their website which reads:
“There is a fear that Newcastle United supporters who are of the Islamic faith or origin may be singled out for abuse by this group and we say that the authorities cannot allow any of our community, whatever their race, creed or religious belief to be treated in such a manner in our city on match day or any other day.
“As Supporters of Newcastle United we are asking what kind of message is such a rally sending to players such as Papiss Cissé, Mehdi Abeid, Cheik Tiote and Moussa Sissoko as well as to our wider Muslim community? Remember, we are black and white; we are UNITED.”
A heavier-than usual police presence is expected on the day of the two marches.
Newcastle Chief Supt Laura Young said:
“We have met with representatives from both of the organisations and have agreed on plans for their demonstrations.
“The organisers from both groups have assured us they do not want any trouble and their intention is to hold peaceful protests before moving on and we will act in a neutral capacity to facilitate this.
“People often ask why we can’t ban protests. Police forces do not have the power to ban a protest or the right to peaceful assembly. This is a fundamental democratic right and is laid down in the European Convention of Human Rights.
“On occasions we can insist on certain conditions being applied to ensure we preserve public safety, prevent crime, serious disorder and serious damage and protect the rights of others.
“Our priority is ensuring public safety and minimum disruption to the local community.”
Newcastle Unites against Pegida supporters so far are:
• The Durham General Branch of the GMB
• Northern Cultural Projects CIC
• The Durham Miners Association
• The County Durham Trades Council
• Northumberland County Unison
• The Newcastle Hindu Temple
• Islamic Diversity Centre(IDC)
• Spice FM
• Show Racism The Red Card
• Durham UAF
• County Durham Unites Against Racism
• Newcastle Council of Faiths
• North East People’s Assembly
• Newcastle Stop The War Coalition
• Northumberland County Unison
• UAF North East
• Sunderland Anti-Fascist Coalition
• West End Housing Co-operative in Newcastle
• Unite Against Fascism
• Stand up to UKIP
• Newcastle Council for Voluntary Service(NCVS)
• Jude Kirton Darling MEP
• Julie Ward MEP
• Lord Beecham
• Comedian and activist Russell Brand
• Journalist and activist Yvonne Ridley
• Dave Anderson MP
• Chi Onwurah MP
• Davy Hopper (General Secretary of Durham Miners Association)
• Palestine Solidarity Campaign Fife
• Sunderland Together
• NUFC Fans United
• PCS Northern
• Bakers Union
• Tyneside Irish Centre
• Unite The Union
• Gateshead Unison
• Unison Northern Region
• TUC Northern Regional
• Newcastle Central Constituency Labour Party
• North East Greens
• Tyneside SWP
Source – Sunday Sun, 22 Feb 2015
A Middlesbrough man is one of 50 behind bars after violence flared at a huge EDL rally.
Kenneth Graham, aged 20, of Ottawa Road, Longlands, Middlesbrough was ordered to spend 26 months behind bars for violent disorder, after the mass protest in Birmingham City Centre on July 20, 2013.
Over the past five weeks, 50 people have appeared at Birmingham Crown Court – and were sentenced for a combined 75 years on Friday.
Most of the violence took part in Birmingham’s Centenary Square, and sparked a massive inquiry from detectives from West Midlands Police criminal investigation department to track down those who brought violence to the streets.
Operations were conducted across the Midlands and further afield to arrest those believed to be involved in the disorder.
Those sentenced came from across England.
Others from the North East include Thomas Milner, 21, of Herbert Street, Darlington, who was jailed for 16 months for violent disorder.
Sentencing for Michael Wilson, aged 20, of Arkley Crescent in Hartlepool was adjourned until 30 January.
Detective Chief Inspector Simon Wallis, who led the nationwide hunt to bring the rioters to justice, said:
“Many lives have been affected by the actions of the rioters on that day. The people who took part in the riots in Birmingham have had their lives turned upside down and so have their families.
“These men now have to spend a period of time in custody away from their families paying the price for their actions. Some family members never even knew their loved ones had been arrested and were facing time in prison.
“These people travelled to Birmingham on July 20 2013 intent on causing violence in the heart of the city. The sentences given of more than 75 years in total sends out a clear message to people intent on causing trouble.”
Around 20 arrests were made in total on the day, with supporters of both factions detained for public order offences.
An appeal on BBC’s Crimewatch in January 2014 led to people identifying themselves to police, while members of the public also contacted officers to give information on the culprits.
Smoke bombs, cobble stones, bottles and coins were hurled at police as the English Defence League and their opponents descended on Birmingham city centre for simultaneous demonstrations.
One policeman suffered concussion during scuffles with protesters while other demonstrators were left bloodied by missiles and clashes with police.
An estimated 2,000 EDL supporters turned up, chanting hate-filled, anti-Islam slogans.
About 300 people – some wearing balaclavas – from Unite Against Fascism and other groups turned out for their counter-demonstration.
More than 1,000 police officers from the West Midlands and other forces had been drafted in to keep the groups apart.
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 12 Jan 2015