Monday, 11 October 2010

Right-Wing Extremists Bring Violence To East Midlands city

By Sunil Patel

Far-right extremists the English Defence League (EDL) lived up to their infamous reputation  as violent thugs after their so-called supporters clashed with local youths and the police in Leicester on Saturday.

Around 1000 EDL protestors gathered on Humberstone Gate East at 2 pm, October 9, and 700 people attended a counter protest organised by Unite Against Fascism. 

Many of EDL members had been drinking heavily in the pubs surrounding Hotel Street. 

The first incident happened at around 4 pm, as supporters of the anti-Islamic group stormed through police lines after running from Humberstone Gate.

They pelted traffic cones at a group of Asian and Black youths; shortly after another altercation happened opposite Phoenix square after the local community were confronted by the right-wing mob.

A heavy police presence was needed to contain the EDL
 Youtube footage shows fighting between the rival factions also took place on Granby Street. 
Despite the skirmishes, the police say the biggest operation mounted by Leicester Constabulary in 25 years was a success.

The police have confirmed, 17 people were arrested, 10 of them have been charged and six of the men were from the Leicestershire area.

Two thousand officers were drafted in from 12 different forces, at a cost £1 million to Leicester City Council. 

Suspected EDL troublemakers were rounded up by police.
Temporary Deputy Chief Constable Gordon Fraser said: “The success of the operation is due to a number of factors, not least the support from Leicester City Council in preparing the city for today’s event.”

“This combined with the cooperation of the Leicester public who listened to our messages and refused to get drawn into the demonstrations.

Jessica Baker, 29, of Evington, Leicester had come into the city centre to show her support to the Unite Against Fascism (UAF) protest.

At 2.20 pm on Saturday, she made her way to EDL protest area to see what was happening. 

Within minutes of arriving at the top of Humberstone Road and as she was taking pictures, a firework was thrown in her direction from the angry crowd.

Jessica said: “I thought it may have been a molotov cocktail. All I heard was a loud bang as it landed near my feet.  

Another firework was hurled under a police horse, which became startled as the explosive went off.
 “Any ounce of credibility the EDL  may have been claiming to have has completely gone. They have behaved like animals,” she added.  

The area around the protest site was turned into a ghost town.
Earlier in the day, Gurjit Dosanjh from Unite Against Fascism group said: “It’s all about having a visual presence today to tell the EDL that they are not welcome in our city. 

“I must emphasise we are committed to a peaceful protest if other people come here with other intentions then the police will deal with them.”

Suj Mahal, 35, Leicester, was backing the UAF, he said, “It’s needed. The EDL’s protest is definitely racially motivated. 

“Growing up in this city with different types of people you can’t understand why these type groups exist.”

Mr Mahal was not confident EDL would observe a peaceful static protest.

He said: “It will probably kick off because of the tension between the two groups.” 

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