Campaigners are urging people to attend an anti-racism vigil on Saturday. The Unite Against Fascism and Love Music Hate Racism protest event will involve speeches from trade union leaders and campaigners.
The organisers are hoping to attract support from hundreds of people. The event, which will coincide with a BNP rally, is also being supported by local organisations like North Staffordshire Campaign Against Racism and Fascism and Staffs University Students Union. The protest, titled a Peace and Unity Vigil, will be held at the North Staffordshire African Caribbean Association car park, in Cannon Street, Hanley, at 10am.
Weyman Bennett, joint secretary of Unite Against Fascism said: "We believe it is the intention of the BNP to whip up tension in the city long after Nick Griffin has retreated. We believe it is a mistake the BNP have been allowed access to Stoke-on-Trent this coming Saturday particularly with regard to leafleting on the streets. Our event will be a peaceful demonstration."
Later on Saturday, an anti-racism music festival called Jam It, will be held in Hanley Central Forest Park from 12pm to 7pm. Music acts SWAY, Skinnyman, Ghetto, and Jammer will all perform. Live graffiti demonstrations, inflatable laser quest and bouncy castles will also be laid on to entertain the crowds at the celebration event.
But the protest in the morning is specifically aimed at combating the BNP event which is being held somewhere in the city centre at the same time.
The locations and details of this BNP event will not be made public until Saturday morning. BNP councillor Michael Coleman said: "The plans are guarded because a lot of anti-BNP activities go on and we could be targeted. We want our rally to be a positive activity and so we are using all the right precautions so that rent a mobs from outside the city do not attack us. We have some people travelling in from outside the city and we do not want them to be faced with something violent. We have planned for about 500 people and if we had 1,500 we would not be able to cope with that. If there is any form of confrontation we will walk away. This will be a peaceful protest – that is how democracy works."
The BNP rally has been organised the wake of a highly contentious court decision. Habib Khan of Normacot, was jailed for eight years last month for the manslaughter of BNP activist Keith Brown.
A police spokesman confirmed officers are in talks with the BNP about their rally. He said: "We have met with members of the BNP on three occasions to discuss their planned campaign for September 20. "During these meetings we have discussed their legal obligations and will continue to meet with them in the approach to the day."