On Saturday, members of RABL attended the “People Welcome in Leeds – March Against Xenophobia and Racism.” The march was called as a public expression of opposition to the rise in racist attacks since the European Union referendum. The march started assembling at the Barrel Man statue on the Headrow by Sainsburys at 12pm, and set off down the Headrow, onto Vicar Lane, then Briggate, and back up the Headrow to rally at the Art Gallery.
In spite of the weather, hundreds of people turned out for the march. People active in migrant and refugee support campaigns were joined by people of no political affiliation, antifascists, and local football teams and fan groups like Republica Internationale and Yorkshire St Pauli, as well as Corbyn supporters from a demo earlier in the day. Along the route, some bystanders applauded the demonstration, with others (including a teacher, who announced she was going to be on strike yesterday), spontaneously joining in. Some sulky faces were seen in the crowds along the route, but the reception was overwhelmingly positive, and the march sent a message of opposition to the racist attacks and the political climate that feeds them.
Decades of anti-migrant rhetoric and newspaper headlines have led to the situation we are now in. The rich and powerful have encouraged this scapegoating to escape the blame for the effects of their anti-working class policies, and are unable and unwilling to back away from it. By organising against the nationalist far-right and its divisive “solutions”, and by putting into practice a politics that organises workers, both migrants and non-migrants, to fight for better lives together, we can undermine the forces that drive anti-migrant sentiment and racist attacks, and start the process of moving towards a world where these things no longer happen.