A huge police operation ensured that two demonstrations in Preston city centre took place without major incident.Advertisement
A protest by the English Defence League (EDL) and a counter-demonstration from Unite Against Fascism (UAF) resulted in just 14 arrests taking place.
Police said that the demonstrations were relatively incident free and that the majority of demonstrators had already left the area.
“Although there were minor scuffles amongst the EDL demonstrators, there were only a handful of arrests for drunken or disorderly behaviour,” a statement read.
“Officers are still working in the city centre ensuring that any remaining demonstrators leave the area in a peaceful manner.”
Around 1000 EDL supporters demonstrated on the Flag Market, while 150 UAF supporters took part in a counter-protest on the Fish Market.
Side streets were blocked by metal cordens, as Preston’s police force was bolstered by assistance from throughout the county.
Preston independent socialist councillor Michael Lavalette, a supporter of UAF said: “The majority of people for the EDL demonstration are from outside of Preston and want to cause crime to do with division.
“There are white people, black people, and Asian people standing together as one against what the EDL are about. That message is really important that we send out.
“It’s minority communities they are out to attack.You have to stand together against far-right organisations,” Mr Lavalette added.
But a spokesman for the EDL said that those who judge others on the colour of their skin are “ill-informed, uneducated and bigoted”
“”The time now has come – we really have had enough of being lied to,” the spokesperson said.
“We’ve just had enough. The spread of Islam through Britain is being unchallenged. The government are pandering to a 6th century ideology. We want ourselves to be heard.
“This goes to show we can put numbers on the streets,” he added.
The protests were largely peaceful, but there were moments of uncertainty, particularly surrounding the EDL’s demonstration.
Supporters set off fireworks and smoke bombs as they gathered on the Flag Market, and also before they began their march from their starting point on Church Street.
1500 police officers were called in to control the event, believed to be one of the largest operations Lancashire Police has ever managed.
You can relive the action through our live-blog, with information from the protest provided by Andy Halls, Joseph Stashko and Danny Lee.
Stay tuned for further updates, video and audio from the day’s demonstrations.