Far-right demonstrators were marched out of Halifax by police after racist abuse was shouted at town-centre traders.
Scores of officers and dog handlers were deployed to Wards End and Horton Street on Saturday at around 5pm to deal with a mob of English Defence League (EDL) supporters on their way back from a rally in Blackburn. Protestors from factions in Halifax, Hull, Huddersfield, Dewsbury and Leeds gathered at The Courtyard pub on Wards End, hanging an EDL flag outside.
A worker at the nearby Chicken Grill House takeaway said three men had shouted racist abuse and staff at some shops were so worried they closed up. Assistants at Hot 4 U takeaway on Wards End said a fight started in the street and eight men had tried to get into their shop but police had marched them away.
Staff at the Courtyard, which was also busy with Halifax Town supporters, said the EDL demonstrators arrived just before the football fans. Most of them congregated outside and when police arrived, officers asked pub staff to ask their customers to stay inside.
“The police were trying to contain the EDL supporters,” said one worker. “It all kicked off outside. All I could see from the bar was a lot of them running down Southgate. The police thanked us afterwards for helping and I thanked them, they were really good.”
One man was arrested, it is believed on suspicion of a racially aggravated public disorder offence.
A spokesman for West Yorkshire Police said; “A group of EDL supporters spontaneously arrived in Halifax town centre. There was no indication of any disorder before this. They were dealt with positively by police and escorted onto trains out of the area. We would like to thank the community for their assistance. We are thankful that people showed restraint and let the police deal with the situation.”
An estimated 2,000 EDL supporters had earlier gathered in Blackburn while a short distance away, a separate counter-demonstration by around 500 people was held by Unite Against Fascism (UAF). Hundreds of police, some drafted in from as far away as Cumbria, along with mounted officers and steel barriers, kept the two sides apart.
There were some skirmishes amongst supporters at the EDL rally, with one man knocked unconscious from a punch, and coins and a pint glass thrown.
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