As 100 people crowded outside Bury Park Community Centre at 1pm on Saturday, it was clear that the anti-English Defence League rally was smaller than its adversary, although no less determined.
It was made up of representatives from Luton’s trade unions, arts community, and many of the diverse ethnicities that make up the town.
They were keen to stress that this was a grass-roots movement that represented Luton and its people.
And nowhere was this borne out more clearly than in the name of the gathering ‘We Are Luton.’
In an impassioned speech, Shadia Edwards explained to the crowd of onlookers why the counter demonstration had been organised.
She said: “This is such as important rally on the very same day as the EDL racist march.
“The EDL are systematically brutal, systematically racist, here in Luton today we say no to racism.”
She added: “Wherever we go, we stand shoulder to shoulder with each other to pledge for unity, freedom for citizenship and dignity for all.”
Various councillors attended the rally offering their support and a number of speakers took to the stage.
Among the gathering, activists expressed their anger at the influx of EDL marchers on to Luton’s streets, most of them from various EDL divisions across the country.
Liz Aldous of Open Arts Luton said: “They are here just to create trouble. These are people not even from Luton who are coming here – promoting racism – giving us all a bad name.
“It undermines all the work we do in our communities. If they want to make a point, they can do it somewhere else – we’re against any extremism.”
Fellow activist Diana Hurley said: “It just gets Luton in the news for all the wrong reasons.”