Not welcome in Norwich
By Sophie Witts
Three men were arrested and a fourth cautioned following a march by the English Defence League through Norwich city centre on November 10.
A 22-year-old from Norwich was charged with possession of an offensive weapon whilst a 45-year-old from Milton Keynes and a 28-year-old from Norwich were charged with using threatening words or behaviour.
A number of reported incidents occured after the march had officially dissipated following outbreaks of violence on Prince of Wales road.
The march was regulated by police made up from 11 different forces who halted the procession at four points along the route to maintain order across the group.
Speaking to Concrete, Super Intendant of Norfolk Police Paul Sanford said: “We’ve worked really hard this afternoon, the officers I think have done a cracking job.”
A spokesman for Norfolk Constabulary confirmed to the Norwich Evening News that it would take a months for the full cost of the “significant and complex” policing operation to be calculated. He added: “Norfolk Constabulary has contingency funds in place to cover operations such as this, so there will be no impact on the policing budget.”
EDL march on city hall
By Elizabeth Jackson
The English Defence League gathered in Castle Gardens near The Mall, where around 150 protesters arrived under the escort of police and riot vans, with more officers stationed in surrounding streets.
Roads were blocked off as the EDL marched down Castle Meadow, carrying flags identifying divisions from as far away as Birmingham and Coventry. Their chants ranged from “No surrender to the Taliban” to “We’re the famous EDL” and “Let’s go fucking mental.”
A minor fight broke out as a male anti-facist protestor positioned himself at the bottom of the castle bank, protecting himself from hurled objects with a guitar while taunting EDL protestors. Several EDL members scaled the wall to confront him, and a scuffle ensued when other anti-fascist protestors came to the man’s aid.
Police eventually broke up the fight, and one young anti-EDL protestor emerged with blood on his head and neck.
When the League reached City Hall, a sizeable crowd had gathered to heckle them, shouting “Nazi scum.” A line of riot officers and mounted police held back the crowd of onlookers.
EDL speeches were introduced with a raucous rendition of the League’s adopted song Coming Down the Road followed by a one minute silence “for all serving and fallen British troops.”
Despite the presence of the much larger We Are Norwich group, EDL spokespeople maintained their intent for non-violent protest, and individual members attempting to clash with members of the public were held back by both police and EDL stewards.
The group’s message urged defence of what they perceived to be integral English values of Christianity and national identity which they felt had been eroded through decisions like Norwich City Council’s closure of the Christian book stall.
EDL speaker Glen Saffer introduced members to give their own anecdotes and experiences to the assembled crowd. He invited a young black man on stage to show that EDL is “not racist, not BNP, not National Front.”
We Are Norwich take to the streets
By Callum Graham
Up to two thousand members of the We Are Norwich coalition protested in Norwich on Saturday November 10.
The crowd gathered in Chapelfield Gardens at 11:00am before marching past the Forum and gathering once more outside City Hall at 12:45pm. The protest opposed the English Defence League demonstration.
We Are Norwich was made up of 25 groups. Secretary Nick O’Brien spoke to the BBC and said: “We had two main aims: number one, to make sure the EDL didn’t get to City Hall or the war memorial. Number two, we wanted to make sure we outnumbered them and send a really clear message that the EDL aren’t welcome.”
Songs were performed and speeches made as We Are Norwich rallied in Chapelfield Gardens, including Clive Lewis of the Norwich Labour party who said “that it [was] time to unite and fight.” UEA was represented by Union members Joshua Bowker and Jack Brindelli, who also gave speeches to the rallying activists.
As the group moved out, the atmosphere was one of peaceful determination, with one member of the We Are Norwich march saying: “as an international student at UEA I think it was important for me to come here today, diversity should be celebrated and if you look at everyone here today it’s easy to see why.”