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EDL: Sixteen Arrested Following East London Demonstration

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PRESS ASSOCIATION - Sixteen people were arrested after far-right demonstrators clashed with police as they protested in east London.

Scuffles broke out and bottles and firecrackers were thrown by members of the English Defence League (EDL) as riot police, mounted police and dogs turned out on the streets in large numbers to maintain control.

By early evening 16 people had been arrested for a variety of offences including affray, drunk and disorderly and assault on a police officer.

Skirmishes broke out as EDL leader Stephen "Tommy" Lennon addressed the crowd, telling them he had broken his bail conditions to be at the protest. He was not one of those arrested.

The far-right group had told Scotland Yard it planned to lead a "static demonstration" in the wake of a 30-day ban by Home Secretary Theresa May on marching in six areas. There had been fears of potential unrest ahead of the protest, centred on the deprived inner city borough of Tower Hamlets.

Mrs May also banned marches in Newham, Waltham Forest, Islington, Hackney and the City of London.

More than 3,000 officers were made available amid fears of violence and clashes with opposition groups including Unite Against Fascism. Police vans from forces including Cumbria, Lancashire and Grampian could be seen on the streets.

Campaigners have been in ongoing negotiations with police chiefs in the wake of tough measures introduced by Mrs May. It is the first time since the Brixton riots 30 years ago that police have requested powers to stop marches in London.

Scuffles broke out as Lennon addressed the chanting crowd, many of whom were waving banners and flags. He said: "I'm meant to sign on at a police station on a Saturday, I'm not doing that. I'm not allowed to go to a demonstration, I'm not doing that.

"The credible outcome is I will be put on remand in prison for my democratic right. That's what's going to happen and when I go to court if they let me out of court with any bail conditions that restrict my democratic right to oppose militant Islam, I will break them the minute I walk out."

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