English Defence League protest in Hyde amid large policing operation

 By Tom Midlane

Around 600 members of the English Defence League (EDL) held a demonstration in Hyde today.

The far-right group were escorted by police from the train station at around 1pm to a static site at ASDA car park on Greenfield Street.

Greater Manchester Police, who mounted a large policing operation, reported that the march went off peacefully and that no arrests were made. However there were rumours, discounted by police, that a Koran had been burnt in the crowd and several observers on Twitter reported obscenties shouted at Asian families.

The demonstration was called in protest after an attack on two youths by a gang of Asian youths in Hyde town centre earlier this month.

Jonathan Reynolds, Labour MP for Stalybridge and Hyde, praised the police’s handling of the protest and said: “I think we made it very clear that they weren’t welcome and people didn’t want them, some of my constituents have been to see me and said they didn’t want them here.”

The EDL had wanted to march through Hyde town centre, but agreed, after discussions with police, to protest on a fixed site on the outskirts of the market town.

There was also a counter-demonstration by Unite Against Fascism’s (UAF). However, the date of the march coincided with UAF’s national conference in central London, a fact that UAF’s joint national secretary Weyman Bennett suggested may not have been accidental. Mr Weyman said: “If they were marching at a different time, we would have had a bigger mobilisation.”

The march went ahead despite violent disorder by suspected EDL supporters in nearby Heywood on Thursday – the group themselves denied any link with the disruption – and fears from Tameside Council that a march could lead to unrest.

Tameside councillors passed an emergency motion on Tuesday evening condemning the EDL as “fascist thugs”.

The mother of Daniel Stringer-Prince, the 17-year-old hospitalised in the Hyde attack, had also made clear that she did not welcome the arrival of EDL. She told the Manchester Evening News: “The EDL have decided to do this and it’s go nothing to do with us whatsoever. We don’t want this march to go ahead. It’s not going to change anything – it won’t make anything better. It will just cause more problems. I certainly don’t want Daniel’s name dragged into something we don’t agree with.”

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