‘Tensions running high’: 1,000 face-off in EDL and Unite Against Fascism showdown, as councillor slams ‘horrible thugs’

Words by Glen Keogh, photos by Oliver Pritchard

The EDL demonstration in Manchester city centre on Saturday passed relatively peacefully with just 15 arrests and five men yesterday charged.

Around 700 English Defence League protesters congregated in Albert Square opposed by around 350 counter-demonstrators from Unite Against Fascism.

The protest was monitored by 300 police officers who accompanied protesters to their demonstration site in Albert Square then picked them up in buses and took them back to their coaches and train stations across the city.

Chief Superintendent John O’Hare said: “I would like to thank both the people of Manchester and the majority of protestors for their conduct.

“It was always going to be a challenging operation with tensions running high between two groups of people who are vehemently opposed to each other.

“There have been fifteen arrests and out of a thousand protesters it is not uncommon for an event of this size.”

Out of the 15 arrests made, 12 were affiliated to the EDL and three to UAF. 

Counciller Pat Karney, Lead Member for the City Centre praised the police efforts to maintain peace throughout the day as the event has provoked more violence in recent years.

He said: “I think the police operation has been absolutely fantastic, it’s the best I’ve seen in Manchester.

“We had the horrible thugs from the EDL and people doing a counter-demonstration but they’ve maintained peace in the city centre.

“The EDL had two priorities – to bring their hate and evil to Manchester and then to disrupt the city centre.

“And most of the Mancunians haven’t seen this, it’s a lot of theatre and drama here but most Mancunians have gone about their sort of normal Saturday and that’s been a success for Manchester and the police and we’re very, very grateful for that.”

ACTION: 12 EDL protesters were arrested

CONTROL: Hundreds of police were on hand to monitor protests

SCUFFLE: Tensions run high between officers and North East EDL on Saturday

UNITE: Counter-protesters around Piccadilly Gardens

UNITE AGAINST FASCISM: Protesters campaigning against racism on Saturday

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