13 arrests at Sunderland mosque protest

Police made 13 arrests when a protest at the site of a recently-approved new mosque turned violent. Around 200 people were involved in the demonstration on St Mark’s Road, which saw members of far-right groups including the English Defence League clashing with anti-fascists and members of the Muslim community.

Scores of police armed with batons were called in as the disorder escalated, and a firecracker in a glass bottle was seen being thrown at officers. Despite numerous objects hitting police officers and nearby homes, it is understood there were no injuries and no damage to property.

Two men both aged 32 have since been charged with being drunk and disorderly. They are both due to appear before Sunderland magistrates on October 26. Eight men arrested on suspicion of public order offences and another three arrested on suspicion of affray have been bailed pending further enquires.

The National Front has pledged to make the demonstrations a monthly fixture, although supporters were asked not the bring NF flags to the event on pain of being removed by far-right organisers who said they would create the wrong impression. A number of protesters among the far-right groups were not from Sunderland, with some travelling from Bradford and Edinburgh.

Plans to convert a former council transport depot into a new mosque were put forward in 2011 and approved by Sunderland City Council in August. The application by the Pakistan Islamic Centre attracted almost 700 letters of objection and a petition of more than 1,400 signatures.

Sky Tyne and Wear, 7 October 2012

See also “Sunderland antiracists stand firm against EDL, NEI, NF and BNP”, UAF news report, 6 October 2012

Update:  Spark FM has an interview with Gary Duncan of Sunderland Anti-Fascist Coalition.