Battle of Cable Street
The Battle of Cable Street took place on Sunday October 4, 1936 in Cable Street in the East End of London. It was a clash between the Metropolitan Police Service, overseeing a legal march by the British Union of Fascists, led by Oswald Mosley, and anti-fascists, including local Jewish, socialist, anarchist, Irish and communist groups. The majority of both marchers and counter-protesters travelled into the area for this purpose. Mosley planned to send thousands of marchers dressed in uniforms styled on those of Blackshirts through the East End of London, which had a large Jewish population.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews denounced the march as anti-semitic baiting and urged Jewish people to stay well away. The Communist Party of Great Britain also tried to stop its members from taking part. Forbidden from confronting the blackshirts, party members had to operate under the cover of the ex-Serviceman's Association. On the day, the Communist Party produced a leaflet for an anti-fascist demonstration in Trafalgar Square, to draw people away from the East End. Stepney communist Joe Jacobs, who played a leading role, was expelled for 'street fighting'.
Despite the strong likelihood of violence, the government refused to ban the march and a large escort of police was provided in an attempt to prevent anti-fascist protestors disrupting the march.
The anti-fascist groups erected roadblocks in an attempt to prevent the march from taking place. Although the police attempted to clear the road to permit the march to proceed, after a series of running battles between the police and anti-fascist demonstrators the march did not take place and the BUF marchers were dispersed towards Hyde Park instead while the Anti-fascists rioted with Police. The barricades were erected near the junction with Christian Street, towards the west end of this long street.
The Battle of Cable Street was a major factor leading to the passage of the Public Order Act 1936, which required police consent for political marches and forbade the wearing of political uniforms in public.
In the 1980s, a large mural depicting the Battle was painted on the side of St. George's Town Hall. This building was originally the Vestry Hall for the area and later the Town Hall of Stepney Borough Council.It stands in Cable Street, about 150 yards west of Shadwell underground station. A red plaque in Dock Street commemorates the incident.
- Joe Jacobs, Out of the Ghetto, Phoenix Press, 1991