Members of the far-right English Defence League (EDL) clashed with rival demonstrators in the London borough Of Walthamstow on Saturday afternoon.
Despite both sets of protesters being surrounded by huge numbers of police, scuffles broke out as the groups came into view of one another at the top of Blackhorse road.
Unite Against Fascism and local residents assembled in Walthamstow town square
Several arrests were made on both sides, though police have yet to confirm numbers.
After members of the UAF and local residents held a sit down protest on the EDL’s planned route (organised via the hash tag #wearewalthamforest) around 200-300 members of the far-right group were diverted down a side road under a barrage of bottles, firecrackers and flower pots.
The march through the district, one of the capital’s most ethnically diverse, was met with a counter protest by Unite Against Fascism (UAF), who had assembled at midday in the town square. Many held placards comparing the EDL leader, Tommy Robinson (also known as Stephen Yaxley-Lennon), to Norwegian killer Anders Breivik.
After several speeches, including one from local Labour MP Stella Creasy, the UAF moved to head-off the EDL who had gathered at Blackhorse Road Station.
The EDL march was eventually ended outside Walthamstow Magistrates Court after large numbers of UAF had moved to prevent the far-right group from accessing their protest point outside the building.
Speaking to Socialist Worker, Mr Rashid, secretary of the Lea Bridge Road Masjid, said: “The only way to stop the police letting the EDL march is to make sure they are out on the streets against them.”
“We’ve been publicising the anti-EDL demonstration at every prayer and event we’ve held—and we’ve received a positive response each time.”
Police surround the EDL demonstration outside Blackhorse Road Station
Mr Khan, the owner of a shop on Blackhorse Road, told the Huffington Post UK: “Why are they here? They are not wanted. This is a peaceful community. We have shown them they are not wanted. If they come back, we will show them again.”
A member of the EDL, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Huffington Post UK, “We’re not racist. We’re under attack. Our way of life is under attack. This is a democracy and we have our right to protest.”
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