Anti-fascist campaign group Hope Not Hate issued a clarion call today to communities and the labour movement to act to stop racist groups from exploiting the ongoing riots.
Its warning follows attempts by the BNP and English Defence League to use the recent disturbances to ratchet up racial tensions across the country.
A mob of several hundred people, including members of the racist EDL, congregated in Eltham, south London, for several hours on Tuesday.
According to one eye-witness the group, which she estimated to number around 300 at its peak, appeared to be drunk and aggressive and shouted racist slogans.
"They were laughing, drinking and intimidating people. Some of them gave salutes and said they intended to go to Lewisham 'to kill blacks'," she said.
In Enfield a mob of white men, again believed to have included members of the EDL, swarmed through the streets chanting "England."
EDL leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon claimed on Monday that as many as 1,000 EDL supporters would "patrol" the streets in towns and cities across Britain.
The fascist BNP is also trying to ratchet up tensions by attempting to link the riots to mass immigration and describing those engaged in the disturbances as "rampaging gangs of blacks."
Hope Not Hate campaigner Nick Lowles said that while some of those gathered in Enfield were locals coming out to defend their communities from attack, others seemed to see it "as a race thing."
"It does highlight the danger of a backlash," he said. "Nick Griffin has been agitating around Enfield and the EDL were actively winding things up at Eltham."
In particular he expressed concern about a proposed EDL March through Tower Hamlets on September 3, saying it was "inconceivable" that the police and Home Secretary could be considering allowing it to go ahead.
"If there's trouble in east London it could have a knock-on effect. The EDL want different communities to be at war with each other. If they are allowed to march down Whitechapel Road it could be a recipe for disaster."
Communities and the trade union and labour movement must unite in opposition to the racist agenda of such groups, he stated.
Regarding the EDL's claims to be protecting the community Mr Knowles wrote on the Hope not Hate website: "The EDL is the last thing our communities need and it is time the media stopped treating Lennon as a legitimate political spokesman rather than a thug who leads a violent and racist gang."
Commenting on the "vigilante" groups who took to the streets, Met Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Steve Kavanagh said they were hampering police not helping them.
"What I don't need is these so-called vigilantes, who appeared to have been drinking too much and taking policing resources away from what they should have been doing - which is preventing the looting," he said.
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