Met plans to exclude the EDL’s Tower Hamlets march from Tower Hamlets

EDL Aldgate 2011
English Defence League demonstrators halted by police at Aldgate in September 2011

BBC News reports on the Metropolitan Police’s plan for the proposed English Defence League demonstration in Tower Hamlets this Saturday:

“The Met said it will allow the march to go ahead but only between 12:00-15:00 BST, and it must only take place on this route: Queen Elizabeth Street, Tower Bridge Road, Tower Bridge Approach, The Minories and then into Aldgate High Street. It must not to go beyond the junction with Mansell Street. The route prevents the EDL from entering the heart of Tower Hamlets, residential areas and religious premises.”

According to this plan, the EDL would get to march up to the border of Tower Hamlets but would be halted at the same place they were in 2011. The only part of Tower Hamlets they would be allowed to march through would be Tower Bridge Approach (which is just inside the borough boundary). The EDL would get nowhere near Altab Ali Park, where they intended to hold their rally.

Although the EDL’s exclusion from Tower Hamlets is welcome, the Met’s plan is clearly inadequate. Instead of imposing restrictions on the route of the demonstration under Section 12 of the Public Order Act, as they are planning to do, the Met should apply for an outright ban on the march under Section 13 and use their powers under Section 14 to ensure that any static protest is kept well away from Tower Hamlets.

In any case, whatever their leadership may agree with the police, it’s hard to see the EDL rank and file being happy to stick to a route that effectively bans them from the “Islamic Republic” whose population they have come to intimidate.

If the march goes ahead on this basis, a violent confrontation between the EDL and the police at Aldgate High Street, or at some earlier stage of the route, looks a real possibility. The prospect of these thugs breaking through police lines and marauding through Tower Hamlets itself cannot be discounted.

Update:  See “EDL march banned from Tower Hamlets”, The Wharf, 4 September 2013

The Met’s statement on the conditions they have imposed on the march and counter-protest can be consulted here.

Update 2:  EDL leader Stephen Lennon claims they are intending to mount a legal challenge to the Met’s restrictions on the march:

Stephen Lennon responds to EDL Tower Hamlets ban