The leader of the far-right English Defence League has vowed to stage a large national protest in Dewsbury after complaining that supporters were treated like “caged animals” at a demonstration in the town on Saturday.
A protest by 400 EDL supporters passed off without serious incident but leader Tommy Robinson was angered that the protesters were contained within high steel barriers. He said the EDL should have been allowed to protest at Dewsbury Town Hall, rather than a tightly cordoned area of the railway station car park.
Mr Robinson said Saturday’s protest was a regional demonstration but the next one in would be national and “the EDL bandwagon will be coming back to Dewsbury in our thousands.”
Many of the EDL protesters were from outside West Yorkshire, including members from Merseyside, Teeside, Burnley, Bolton, Leicester and Mansfield. A nearby counter-protest by Unite Against Fascism attracted about 50 people at its height. A large police operation ensured that the day passed off relatively peacefully, although traders in the town said they were thousands of pounds out of pocket because many shoppers stayed away.
Kirklees Divisional Commander Chief Superintendent John Robins said: “On duty in West Yorkshire in relation to this operation there has been around 700 police officers in total but I stress they have not all been at Dewsbury. They have been around West Yorkshire in support of this operation.”
Six men were arrested by West Yorkshire Police and British Transport Police. They were: A 31-year-old from Batley, for possessing an offensive weapon; a 44-year-old from Barnsley, a 39-year-old from Merseyside and a 41-year-old from Cleckheaton, all for public order offences; a 16-year-old from Bradford for criminal damage; and an 18-year-old from Preston for trespass on railway property.