Chris Harman & John Rose


The day we stopped the Nazis ...
and the police ran amok

(27 August 1977)

First published in Socialist Worker, 27 August 1977.
Reprinted in Socialist Worker, No.2064, 14 August 2007.
Copied with thanks from the Socialist Worker Website.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The day began with a large demonstration called by the All Lewisham Campaign Against Racism and Fascism.

It brought together large numbers of trade unionists and socialists, although the leadership included the local bishop.

It assembled at the other end of Lewisham to the Nazis and its leaders accepted a police order to disband it well away from the Nazi assembly point.

But at least two thirds of the marchers saw that the Nazis will never be stopped by peaceful pleading, and side stepped the police lines to walk to the Nazi’s assembly point in New Cross.

They were joined by thousands of other people who had responded to the Socialist Workers Party’s call to stop the Nazis.

The Nazis were allowed through police cordons to join the march by showing their Nazi membership cards.

Suddenly hundreds of police and a score of police horses began to charge down the road clearing a path for the Nazi column.

The crowd of anti-fascists exploded. Sticks, smoke bombs, rocks, bottles were thrown over the police heads at the Nazis.

The would-be master race were now huddled onto the opposite pavement into bedraggled groups, hardly a march at all.

Their humiliation was crowned when, in at least two separate points, anti-fascists rushed across the road to break into the Nazi ranks.

Later, as the defeated Nazis dispersed the police turned on the demonstrators.

The Special Patrol Group (SPG) jumped out of their vans, truncheons out, hitting and grabbing at random.

They flung one anti-fascist through a shop window.

The effect was to remind the local black people of the harassment and humiliation they’ve suffered at the hands of the police in the past.

Several thousand demonstrators had been marching down the road peacefully, chanting “We stopped the Front” and “The workers united will never be defeated” to applause from groups of local people gathered at the ends of their roads.

They were clearly about to disperse. Police vans tore into this march from behind, breaking it up and then chasing black youngsters, nearly running them down at 40 m.p.h.

Last updated on 9 December 2009