While out on a jog this morning I received a text from my wife, “There’s some crazy racist demonstration at the Blackhorse Road station”. That’s right, I remembered, the English Defence League is in town. I had received a flyer earlier in the week asking residents of the area to attend a counter-protest organised by Unite Against Fascism and We Are Waltham Forest. I turned myself around and headed over to the tube stop to check out what the craic was.

Walthamstow is a racially and religiously diverse area of north London that is usually quite calm on the weekend. Families, young professionals, elderly couples, teenagers and others head to the marshes for a stroll, or go to the high street to check out Europe’s longest outdoor market, where you can buy food as diverse as the people. There is a large population of muslims, from a variety of cultures and ethnic backgrounds, most of whom speak in brilliant native London English. For a lot, if not most, their identity is British, which I have to say, caught me off guard, with my latent assumptions, when I first moved here from Belfast. For example, I once heard a woman dressed head to toe in a black all-encompassing, face-covering burkha speaking on her mobile say, in teenage-esque British English,“yeah, and I was like totally irritated with him, so, what-evah”. I had to stop and laugh—mostly at myself—because it was so unexpected. But today the choppy sound of a helicopter broke the calm and an eerie tension was felt in the air.

For whole article, continue to Slugger O’Toole: http://sluggerotoole.com/2015/05/09/anatomy-of-an-english-defence-league-demonstration/

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