EDL in Bradford

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EDL kettled by riot police in Bradford

The EDL were yesterday forced to have their Bradford demonstration behind 10 foot solid walls, almost completely away from public view. Bussed in, and shepherded through airport style x-ray gates, their presence was only felt when they showered counterdemonstrators with stones, bottles and smoke bombs.

The police will no doubt congratulate themselves on facilitating protest without riots breaking out all over Bradford. But much of the anticipation of serious disorder was probably down to the police themselves, who had spent weeks convincing local communities that allowing opposition to the EDL on the streets would lead to a re-run of the 2001 Bradford riots. The only counter demonstrations they ‘facilitated’ were those by the UAF and the police-sponsored ‘Be Peaceful’, both a substantial distance from the EDL.

This scare mongering must surely have had a significant impact. But around 800 people turned out regardless, amassing in the city centre, just metres from the EDL, in an unplanned, spontaneous demonstration. Police repeatedly attempted to move this crowd back, using lines of police and horses, and clamping down hard on anyone tempted to ‘return’ a few of their missiles to the EDL.

It is doubtful too whether the EDL felt their protest was facilitated. Held so completely out of public view, it looked more like they had been herded into a temporary prison.

The police will probably claim that the huge site bordered by ten feet solid walls was justified and successful in containing the EDL. Except that it didn’t actually contain them. One of the most notable things about the EDL is their ability to fight their way out of all sorts of police containment. This time at least a hundred broke through lines of baton wielding cops and escaped over the walls, pursued by both police and counter demonstrators. On at least one occasion counter demonstrators got there first and a few EDL were seen sporting bloody noses and lips.

After that point the police finally managed to get control. They deployed riot police to keep anti-EDL groups on the run, pushing them further and further out of the city centre until they dispersed. They also deployed large numbers of riot police to kettle the EDL, containing them tightly with shields and batons. Slowly the kettled EDL were put back on their buses, the last ones leaving around six o’clock, a full two hours after their demo had been scheduled to stop.

There were five arrests reported, there seemed few injuries and property damage was minor. But some of the measures used by police – particularly those aimed at deterring counterdemonstrations – have to raise questions about just what is acceptable and/or justified in the name of preventing public disorder.

14 thoughts on “EDL in Bradford

  1. And what would have happened if the police hadn’t even bothered to attempt to contain the EDL? You’d have had running battles between them and the UAF in a repeat of the riots of 2001.

    If the EDL and UAF could be trusted to protest peacefully then it wouldn’t be a problem. But neither organisation can be trusted, so they need to be policed with a heavy hand.

  2. The UAF were not in the frame – their demo was miles away. The crowd that got attacked by the EDL (and the police) was mainly local people along with others who had come to Bradford to oppose the EDL. Not UAF.

    And yes, given the chance, they might have fought ‘running battles’ with the EDL. Maybe it’s about time somebody did. No strategy so far – not containment, not ignoring them, not shutting down entire town centres – has stopped the EDL running rampage with their anti-Islamic bullshit.

    And all this crap about a repeat of the 2001 riots. The crowd that went looking for EDL around Bradford was mixed – Asian lads, yeah, but also white men and women too. If they’d been allowed to get on with it, they’d have just given the EDL a good kicking and gone home happy.

  3. Well done FIT teams???? For what? Attempting and failing to keep the EDL in their playpen? Stopping a riot that was never going to happen in the first place? Or letting a few hundred Muslims and anti-fash run around Bradford beating up stray EDL? ….ok, I’ll give you the last one….

  4. I visited this site because I’m appalled by the police use of kettling and violence against people who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. However the attitudes expressed here give some clues as to how these situations come about. Would you be happy if the self-styled EDL and anti-fascist groups fight to the death on the streets? Or perhaps they should stage demonstrations a few yards apart, with police in the middle to absorb the missiles?

    The problem is that too many people don’t want to demonstrate, they want to fight: some of the writers on this site expect to travel from demo to demo for a good scrap, and their concern for an issue such as anti-globalisation is as tenuous as a football hooligan’s interest in the beautiful game.

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