Saturday, 9 October 2010

Violence flares at Unite Against Fascism protest in Leicester

A number of police and members of the public have been injured as protesters from Unite Against Fascism (UAF) and a rival organisation gathered in Leicester.

The English Defence League held a static demonstration and Unite Against Fascism (UAF) staged a counter-protest in the Humberstone Gate East area of the city.

At least 1,400 officers were drafted in from 12 other forces to deal with the demonstrations, the city's largest policing operation in 25 years.

UAF supporters arrived from across the country in coaches throughout the morning.
Before the protests started, police said one person was arrested for drugs offences and another three people were also arrested.

Earlier this week, Theresa May, the Home Secretary, authorised a blanket ban on marches in Leicester, but the groups were still permitted to hold static demonstrations in Humberstone Gate East in the city from 2pm to 3.30pm.

The area was shut down by police today, with rival groups placed either side of metal barriers.

Much of the city centre appeared quiet and some shops were boarded up near to the protest site.

Police were using Section 14 of the Public Order Act which meant officers could take action against anyone who protests outside that place and time.

They were also using stop and search powers, and were supported by the dog unit, mounted unit and East Midlands Air Support Unit.

At one point a policeman was put into a buggy-style ambulance on a stretcher.

Some EDL protesters were also treated by police medics, it is unclear what their injuries were.

But what did the residents think?

Mark James, 40, a property developer, was watching the EDL demonstration. Being black, he said, gave him his own perspective on the event.

"The EDL invited me in to hear what they had to say and I was ready to go in, but the police said I couldn't, it was too dangerous, it could provoke trouble.

"You hear and see terrible things about Islamic extremism, so you can see why people would not want that.

"And the neighbourhood I live in here in Leicester is mostly Muslim and every community has its own racism - you don't always here about that."

Also watching was Cindy McCammon, 19, a student from Burton-on-Trent. Her friends had come "to see what was happening" but she said she had some respect for the EDL.

"You have to stand up for what you believe in," she said. "They have a point but they go about it the wrong way.

"If I see someone walking down the street with a St George's Flag on their shoulders, I feel proud.

"We shouldn't be afraid to stand up to things which are wrong, even if they are done by people from an ethnic group."

It is thought the violence was started when a group of UAF activists who had infiltrated the EDL protest broke away from the group and confronted a group of local Asian and black youths in the Highfields area of the city. But the violence was brought under control by police who dispersed the group.

British National Party

News from the Liberal Democrats

Green Party News

Conservative Party News

Labour Party News

MPs' expenses Updates