For a movement that was on the verge of implosion less than a month ago, the English Defence League has staged a major show of force in central London, signalling that the death of Drummer Lee Rigby has breathed new life into the far-right protest group.
More than 500 supporters – including football hooligans, veteran fascists and others – assembled under tight police security at the entrance to Downing Street, where they listened to their leaders blame Islam for the killing in Woolwich last week.
A counter-demonstration of several hundred people, organised by anti-fascist groups, was kept apart from the EDL protest, which chanted “scum, scum, scum” as their leader, Tommy Robinson, railed against the left and Muslims. Flags of St George fluttered and placards with messages such as “wool which 2013: no turning back” were held aloft.
Update: Hope Not Hate reports:
“Police in riot gear had to move in to separate the EDL thugs from a counter protest. After the demonstration finished EDL supporters ran amok through Leicester Square chanting ‘English till I die’ and continued to launch attacks at the police. In response the police held the protesters in Leicester Square and closed the pubs in which they had been drinking. One police officer was injured by the EDL after he was hit on the head by a bottle. So far there has been three arrests.”