Clashes as EDL and anti-fascist groups march - but police praise Bristol community
The EDL march and counter-protests in Bristol went ahead as planned today – with only a few clashes between the two sides and police.
There had been safety fears in the weeks leading up to the event, but police say they are pleased with the Bristol community for their “good behaviour”.
Police say there were 11 arrests during the day, including going equipped to cause damage, assaulting a police officer and failing to leave an area when directed to do so by a police officer.
There are dozens of photos from the day in our gallery.
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As the EDL left Bristol, flanked by police officers, trouble broke out among anti-EDL protesters, some of whom set fire to rubbish in bins on the streets.
Riot police were brought in and police horses were seen charging small groups.
But after about an hour, the groups became smaller and were dispersed.
The day started with police erecting metal barriers at strategic points through the city centre to keep the two marches separate. There was a strong police presence throughout the day.
EDL marchers arrived by train and in coaches, anti-fascist and We Are Bristol supporters gathered at the fountains in the city centre – despite having been told by police to meet at Castle Park.
Eventually the police moved them towards Castle Park – meanwhile the Pride parade was getting started and moving from Berkeley Square to College Green.
Here is a video of the anti-EDL protesters as they made their way through Bristol:
The EDL march began at about 1.30pm, with about 400 EDL supporters kettled in by police as they made their way from Redcliffe Wharf to Queen Square, where they listened to speeches.
Here are a couple of videos of the EDL as they made their way through Bristol:
Here is an interview with Kevin Carroll from the EDL:
Before the march started, EDL members spoke to ThisisBristol about their reasons for taking part.
Becca Parnham, 15 from Ashton Vale, said: "We are always portrayed as being racists but we're not, not all of us anyway.
"Patriotism is not racism and we are just sticking up for our democratic rights."
John Rose, 45 from Redfield, said: "No one is denying that there is a problem with immigration in this country but the Government seem to look after the immigrants than they do with their own people.
"It's not OK for an OAP to stay freezing for a week in the middle of winter before they get a fuel payment."
Mike Dyer, 32 from Hartcliffe, said: "What we love about Bristol is that it is a multi-cultural city. What we don't like is people coming here and trying to turn our country into a sharia state.
"If you want to come here you should abide by our laws, so that we can all live together quite happily."
Dozens of policemen, many dressed in riot gear and accompanied by officers on horseback and more with police dogs, shepherded the EDL members along the Welshback and into Queen Square.
Up at Castle Park the anti-fascist groups met together – police estimate there were about 500 of them in total - before dispersing into the city centre.
Some anti-EDL protesters headed towards the EDL coaches in the St Mary Redcliffe area, waiting for the EDL group to return.
At about 3pm the EDL marchers were allowed out of Queen Square and escorted by police back to their coaches, where the first real trouble of the day began.
Although the two groups were kept separate by police, they were close enough to hurl insults at each other and then missiles such as gravel and rocks.
Police moved the groups apart, but in the streets surrounding the EDL coaches, small skirmishes broke out with groups of anti-fascist protesters using bins to create barricades and setting fire to their contents.
Police dealt with these smaller groups as their colleagues escorted the EDL out of Bristol.
At one point the mounted police charged a group of anti-EDL protesters:
By the early evening police said the groups causing trouble had been dispersed and the St Mary Redcliffe and Temple Way areas were becoming calmer.
The Pride celebrations seemed to be unaffected by the other events in the city and passed off successfully – despite the rain.
The police operation continues into the night to ensure that everyone who enjoys the city centre on a Saturday evening is able to do so as normal.
Assistant Chief Constable Anthony Bangham said: "This has been a challenging day and I would like to thank the community for their patience and support. I have always maintained that the central shopping and tourist destinations should remain unaffected and I am pleased that the city centre has remained trouble-free.
"Despite the demands placed on our officers we have also been able to support Bristol Pride which I know is an important and well supported event in the city's calendar.
"Finally, I would like to thank all the officers and staff who have taken part in today's operation. Some have come from as far away as Yorkshire to help keep our city running smoothly. We have also had excellent support from the other agencies working alongside us."