Two English Defence League leaders were arrested on Saturday as they attempted to visit the spot where Drummer Lee Rigby was hacked to death in broad daylight last month. EDL leader Tommy Robinson and his co-leader Kevin Carroll were detained by police on suspicion of obstructing officers in east London as they attempted to stage what they claimed was a charity walk to Woolwich Barracks via the East London Mosque.
The Metropolitan Police said on Friday that anyone trying to march to Woolwich would be arrested and imposed a route for the walk between Hyde Park Corner and ending at Old Palace Yard, opposite the House of Lords. In a statement posted on the EDL's Twitter feed, the group said: "Tommy Robinson & Kev Caroll arrested for obstructing the police and carted off."
The statement claimed "negotiations" for their release were taking place and that the pair still hoped to walk to Woolwich to lay flowers. On Friday, Robinson replied to a Tweet asking him what weather he was expecting for Saturday: "ill be in a cell by lunch time so won't matter. Ha ha"
Robinson later tweeted that he was at Wandsworth Police Station.
As well as laying flowers in memory of Drummer Rigby in Woolwich, Robinson and Carroll were also walking to raise money for a young girl fighting against neuroblastoma. Throughout Saturday morning, the pair posted pictures on Twitter at London landmarks such as Buckingham Palace, The Mall and the July 7 Memorial in Hyde Park.
Scotland Yard said on Friday it was imposing conditions due to fears that both the march and gathering would "result in serious public disorder and serious disruption to the life of the community" and a breach of the conditions would be a criminal offence. The police force issued two notices under the Public Order Act based on "current community tensions, the current intelligence picture about Saturday and recent marches and protests held by similar groups".
It also said that attempts had been made to liaise with the EDL to facilitate the march and gathering and offered them two alternative routes that avoided Tower Hamlets, home to the East London Mosque. Alan Green, chairman of the Tower Hamlets Inter Faith Forum, said that an open day was taking place at the mosque on Saturday.
He said: "We are aware that there are those who are fearful of Islam and who seek to undermine the harmony that exists between the faith communities in this borough. Our unity here today makes it very clear that they will not succeed."
Earlier this week, two American political activists who founded an anti-Muslim group were banned by the Home Secretary from entering the UK following reports they were to attend this weekend's march. Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, who set up Stop Islamisation of America and run the website Jihad Watch, have been forbidden from entering the country on the grounds their presence would ''not be conducive to the public good''.
The police also banned the British National Party (BNP) from marching from Woolwich Barracks earlier this month and ordered it to move its protest to Westminster. The event saw rival protesters clash outside the Houses of Parliament, as BNP supporters and anti-fascist campaigners came to blows.