In response to an English Defence League march planned for Saturday November 16, a group called Exeter Together has planned a counter demonstration for the same day.
The anti-EDL group has called forth the action with this message: “The EDL are not welcome in Exeter. We call on all to take a firm stand against the EDL by coming together to celebrate our diversity on the day”.
Those attending the Exeter Together march are set to meet in Belmont Park at 10:30am on 16 November. The march will begin at 11am, where they will move through the city centre, finishing their march at 12pm in Bedford Square.
Speaking to the Express and Echo, Hannah Packham, spokesperson for Exeter Together said: “We want to unite together in a celebration of diversity and the multi-cultural, multi-safe community we are all so proud of in Exeter. We need to stand together when this is threatened by people who just want to spread bigotry and hatred.
“When people know about what we are doing they sign up to it. They are horrified the EDL are coming to their city and everyone we have spoken to has been more than happy to support us”.
Exeter Together was created and set up at the start of October, and has since gained much support from multiple societal groups. At the time of writing this article, Exeter Together has gained 361 supporters for the demonstration, and this is expected to grow over the next few weeks. These supporters include national, local and regional organisations, as well as local individuals.
Alongside such organisations as the National Union of Teachers, Exeter Quakers, the Public and Commercial Services Union and Exeter Pride, societies from the University of Exeter have also shown their support for Exeter Together’s cause.
They include the University’s UNISON branch, UCU branch, the International Society, Palestine Society, Mature Students Society and Singapore Society. As well as this, individuals from the University have also allied with the cause, such as Alexander Whattam of the Liberal Democrat Society; Ollie Garrod, the University’s Athletics Captain; and Hannah Barton, the President of the Student’s Guild.
The plans for the march have been confirmed with the police, and Exeter Together has planned to stage their march before the EDL’s in order to avoid confrontation.
An anonymous statement from a local resident on the Exeter Together website says: “I support the statement of Exeter Together and hope that we can promote a society that welcomes different cultures and ethnicities in Exeter, based on principles of respect and solidarity, not the divisive ideology of the EDL and their sympathisers.”
Hannah Barton, Guild President, said: “I feel it is important that we celebrate the diversity of our student population and the city of Exeter. Exeter enjoys a unique and very special community feel, due in part to our multi-cultural, multi-racial and multi-faith population. I believe that we are privileged to have such a population and we should enjoy this aspect of living in such a wonderful place.”
Amy Young, News Team