Police officers swooped to quell a racist confrontation which flared up shortly after soldiers had paraded through Nuneaton yesterday afternoon. Members of the English Defence League attended the ceremony, which granted the Borough Council’s Freedom of Entry to the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.
The active servicemen, carrying machine guns and led by a regimental band, were cheered by large crowds who lined the town centre streets. As the march came to an end, the 60-strong EDL entourage headed towards the Edward Street area of the town, which is the heart of the local Muslim community.
“We were expecting some people connected with the EDL to be at the parade and after it had finished they congregated at The Crew bar in Queen’s Road,” said Chief Inspector Chris Lewis. “They positioned themselves outside and raised tensions with the Muslim community, which caused a few minor skirmishes but nothing of any consequence.
"We moved in to keep people at a distance and to calm things down. The EDL members were then escorted away from the scene and back to Nuneaton train station.”
The Warwickshire force commander, who was in charge of policing the parade, added: “We are constantly scanning for intelligence and knew that the EDL were planning to be in attendance for this occasion. Many of them had travelled from other parts of the country but they also had some local supporters.”
Around 200 people gathered around the Edward Street-Queen’s Road junction during a four-hour stand-off, as police officers, including dog handlers, kept the situation under control. All roads leading to the area were blocked for traffic and police reinforcements were also called in from the West Midlands.
Yaseen Ahmedabadi, assistant secretary of the Nuneaton Muslim Society, said: “The local community staged a peaceful protest against the unexpected and unwarranted presence of visitors from the English Defence League, who have no place in our society.
"We are very pleased with the way the police handled the situation.”