A Preston councillor who has appeared on an EDL-poster ahead of proposed demonstration in the city centre has spoken of the threats and intimidation he’s received.Advertisement
Councillor Drew Gale, who represents the two centre ward, has seen his picture used on an online advert for the demo.
The English Defence League, a far-right group, has applied to Lancashire Police to hold a static protest on the Flag Market.
On its poster, rallying supporters to attend the event, it has a number of claims about Preston’s Muslim community put over a picture of Cllr Gale’s face.
He said: “I’m not surprised they’ve put me on it. I guess it’s supposed to intimidate me but that only works if you’re intimidated, and I’m not.
“I think they’re idiots and racists. You only have to look that their former leader Tommy Robinson left because he said they were all racists.”
Cllr Gale says the use of his image dates back to 2010 when an EDL demonstration made its way through the city centre and he was one of the leaders of a counter-protest.
“There’s no place for hate speech in Preston, or anywhere for that matter,” says Cllr Gale, “in 2010 I gave a two and a half minute speech where I laid into them. It seems that’s stuck with them and since then I’ve had threats and particularly online comments about what they will do to me.
“I’ve passed all these to the police. But I retweet them, I make a mockery of them, because I think the best thing to do is show their narrow-minded views for the stupid comments that they are.”
Screengrabs from Twitter and Facebook show a NorthWestEDL account sending messages to Cllr Gale saying he will meet members of his constituency who run the account.
Cllr Gale said he’d not met any of them yet.
Another brands Cllr Gale as an “ultimate traitor” and says he should “expect us 2016”.
Cllr Gale says he has not made up his mind on whether he will attend any kind of counter-protest in February, if police give permission for the EDL demo to go ahead.
He said: “I completely understand why people want to show their disgust with the demo. But the more I think about it the more I think just no reaction is best.
“The people of Preston are a tolerant and fair people. I think they will be appalled with what they hear coming from the demo.
“And I think the EDL is a dying organisation. They’ll be lucky to get 100 people there. And I think they thrive off their being some kind of counter-protest. If that isn’t there, then who are they shouting at? No one.”
Police are considering an application from the EDL which would see the demo take place on Saturday 20 February.