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Sunday, 29 August 2010

13 men held after EDL demonstration (UK)

Admin: Here’s another account of the Bradford EDL conflict with an updated number of arrests.

More than a dozen men are in custody after a controversial city centre demonstration by far-right group the English Defence League.

The 13 were arrested by police for offences of public order and violence during Saturday's protest in Bradford, West Yorkshire, which was attended by fewer than 1,000 EDL supporters.

Some threw bottles, cans, stones and three smoke bombs at opponents gathered nearby. Nearly 100 supporters of the far-right group climbed over a temporary 8ft barricade - aimed at keeping them inside the city's Urban Gardens - to get on to neighbouring waste ground from where they threw missiles at police.

As the skirmishes were breaking out, nearly 300 people gathered for an alternative event hosted by Unite Against Fascism/We Are Bradford about half a mile away at the Crown Court Plaza.

A West Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said of the 13 arrests, eight were from Bradford and the others from Wakefield, Leeds, Wolverhampton, Walsall and Birmingham.

In the days before the rally, Bradford community leaders called for calm fearing demonstrations could provoke a violent reaction to rival the 2001 Bradford riots, where 191 people were given sentences totalling more than 510 years.

Initially the EDL intended to march in Bradford with a planned protest by Unite Against Fascism on the same day. A high-profile campaign was started to stop the EDL march and a 10,000-signature petition opposing it was handed to the Home Office. Home Secretary Theresa May was asked to authorise the ban by Bradford Council.

It came after West Yorkshire Police's Chief Constable, Sir Norman Bettison, wrote to the council requesting an order to prohibit any public processions over the August Bank Holiday weekend.

In a joint statement police and the Bradford Council praised local people for remaining calm during a difficult day when tensions could have risen.

Ch Supt Alison Rose, Bradford South divisional commander, and council leader Ian Greenwood said: "Although there has been some disruption to the city centre, we are returning to normality and people of Bradford are now able to continue their lives. The police has worked effectively to handle the situation and to respond quickly to the events as they unfolded. The mood of the city in general has been one of calm and local people have co-operated and supported the police by behaving sensibly or staying away. We have done a lot of work with the local community in the build-up to these events and we would like to thank those who helped to plan for and managed the protests. The numbers of English Defence League supporters in Bradford were less than they claimed. Unite Against Fascism has also had a similar presence in the city."

The Press Association