EDL Demonstration In Newcastle: Three Arrested In Relation To 'Racist Tweets'

An EDL Demonstration
An EDL Demonstration

Several hundred EDL protesters gathered on the steps of St Mary's Catholic Cathedral in Newcastle on Saturday, singing "I'm English til I die" and tooted by passing van drivers.

Police were present in large numbers watching the demonstration grow. Chants of "Whose streets? Our streets" rang out from the EDL supporters. They followed it by singing "RIP Lee Rigby." Some demonstrators had their children with them.

Around 1,500 people took part in the EDL march, Northumbria Police said. Earlier this month it was predicted that 500 would turn up. Flags from Teesside, Coventry and Bournemouth were on display, along with one marked Taliban Hunting Club.

Police arrested three people ahead of an EDL protest for allegedly making racist tweets.

Northumbria Police said two people from Gateshead and a third from Stockton, Teesside, were held earlier. The EDL has planned their demonstration for months, but the horrific murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich on Wednesday has heightened tensions in the local community.

People in the Newcastle Unites protest against the EDL march chanted: "Nazi scum, off our streets."

Meanwhile, EDL supporters cheered loudly along to songs played over a PA system. A man who appeared to be wearing British Army desert fatigues was given a rousing reception when he showed EDL supporters a flag of St George printed with the words RIP Lee Rigby.

Northumbria Police said it will "allow people the right to peaceful protest, protect the safety of everyone in the city and prevent serious disorder and damage".

Newcastle area commander chief superintendent Gary Calvert said: "We appreciate that the events in London on Thursday may have heightened community concerns about this weekend's planned protests in Newcastle.

"We are constantly monitoring the situation and will continue to adapt accordingly.

About 1,000 officers were expected to be on duty in the city centre, backed by 10 police horses on loan from the West Yorkshire force.

Among them will be Bud, a police horse who was punched when Newcastle United fans fought with officers in the city following their 3-0 defeat to arch rivals Sunderland last month.

During the morning, under clear blue skies, EDL supporters gathered in the city, ahead of the 1.30pm march.

Bud showed no sign of any ill-effects when he was out on duty today.

Well-wishers stroked and patted the police horse as he made his first return to the streets of Newcastle.

Bud was on duty close to Central Station where EDL supporters were gathering.