The English Defence League has applied for permission to march through Leicester city centre. The group, which staged a major rally in the city in October 2010, wants to return on Saturday, February 4.
Its previous protest degenerated into violence as people within a cordoned-off area reserved for the EDL pelted police officers with bricks, bottles and coins. A number of fireworks and smoke bombs were also thrown from the 1,000-strong EDL section, while some of its followers broke through police lines to engage in running battles with local youths and officers.
The operation cost police – who put 2,000 officers on to the streets – and Leicester City Council an estimated £850,000. Shops, particularly those in Humberstone Gate East, lost trade because they closed and boarded up their properties for the day.
The EDL formally notified city authorities on Wednesday of its wish to stage a march and rally. Police and officials at Leicester City Council held an urgent meeting yesterday to consider their response. They can apply to the Home Office for a ban on the march – as they did on the previous occasion – but cannot prevent a static protest.
It should be noted that the EDL demonstration, organised under the slogan “Protesting against anti-white racism and the 2 tier justice system”, has been directly inspired by inaccurate and irresponsible anti-Muslim reporting in the Daily Mail. Hopefully the Leveson inquiry will take note.
For criticisms of the police response to that demonstration see here.
Update: See “EDL to spread its far-right creed to new target towns”, Independent, 13 January 2012