June 14, 2011

Fears that EDL march could bring repeat of clashes to city's streets

An English Defence League protest in Stoke in
January last year, during which 40 police officers were injured

Fears have been voiced that a planned English Defence League march in Derby will bring problems experienced by other neighbouring cities.

Police and the council say they have not yet received official confirmation of the demonstration, which organisers are legally required to give. But a page on social networking website Facebook states that the event is one of five that will take place across the country on July 9 and more than 290 people have said they will be attending. Posters have also been made.

A campaigner for multiculturalism is worried that unless it is properly controlled the march could result in violent clashes, like those witnessed previously in Leicester and Stoke.

Those demonstrations have cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds to police. In October last year, 1,000 EDL supporters and 750 counter-protesters descended on Leicester. Supporters of the EDL pelted officers with bottles, cans, bricks and coins during the protest. The operation to police it cost £715,000, with 18 people arrested. Forty police officers were hurt at a similar event in Stoke in January last year.

Superintendent Gary Parkin, head of operational policing in Derby, said: "Since the EDL was formed in 2009 they have held between 20 and 25 major demonstrations where there have been around 1,000 people. That is a major drain on the resources of any city."

Mr Parkin said that when the EDL held a "flash-demo" in Derby in January it did not require extra policing. He said: "We have had a flash-demo, where very few people turned up, but how much it will cost depends on the number of people who turn up from the EDL and how many people decide to protest against it. There are, however, four other events planned for the same day so it might dilute the support."

Under the Public Order Act, groups are required to notify police of any demonstration and details of their route if they plan to march. Mr Parkin said: "People are free to protest within the boundaries of the law."

It is expected that members of Unite Against Fascism, who have protested against the EDL in other areas, will hold a counter-demonstration. And organisers of a free music festival aimed at celebrating Derby's multiculturalism have brought forward the date of the event so it coincides with the proposed EDL demonstrations. It will be held in the Market Place and will feature live music and speeches.

Organiser Baby J said: "Derby is very diverse and always has been, that is something that the people of Derby are really proud of. We live in peace and harmony and have done for a long time."

Baby J said he had been at several EDL marches in other cities, some of which descended into violence.

He said: "It all depends on how it is policed. If EDL and protesters are in the same space, city centres have been shut down. I would hope that they are put somewhere else, like at the Cattle Market. I know that the EDL had meetings in Leicester and Nottingham at the weekend to discuss it so there will be at least a few hundred. It will not be like the previous one which was a flash demonstration organised the night before."

This is Derbyshire

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

During a time of rising working-class mobalization, as we are currently seeing, the fascist dregs invariably get driven from the political scene.