EDL march in Bristol: Protesters urged to avoid fountains area
POLICE in Bristol have warned groups involved in an anti-English Defence League march tomorrow to avoid the Centre.
Officers confirmed that counter protest group We Are Bristol will meet in Castle Park but urged protesters not to gather at the fountains on St Augustine's Parade, as previously planned.
The routes of the marches by the far-right EDL, which says it is protesting at the "Islamification" of Bristol, and opponents who say it attracts violent, racist supporters, will pass within 200 metres of each other.
Police are aiming to contain the two protests to ensure a trouble-free day.
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The We Are Bristol protest will start at 1pm in Castle Park and follow a circular route around the outside of the park.
Police spokesman Martin Dunscombe said: "Supporters of We Are Bristol will march to Bristol Bridge and from there follow a circular route back to the park along High Street, Wine Street, Newgate, Broad Weir and Lower Castle Street. Once back at the park there will be a rally with the event expected to have concluded by 4.30pm."
But he warned: "Supporters should not gather at the Fountains and are advised to make their way straight to Castle Park."
The counter-protest will start at the same time as the planned EDL march from Redcliffe Wharf to Queen Square.
Assistant Chief Constable Anthony Bangham, pictured above, overall police commander for the event, said: "There has been talk for some weeks of a counter-protest against EDL and I am pleased that the organisers have discussed and agreed their plans with us.
"Neither march goes into the central area of the city, which means people can come into Bristol on Saturday confident that they will be able to shop, socialise and relax in the city centre."
The two protests also clash with Bristol's Pride festival taking place on College Green.
And it has also been announced that another anti-EDL march is planned by sexual orientation equality group LGBTQI.
The group will be dressed in Pink and Black and will carry banners and placards opposing the EDL from Berkeley Square, Clifton, through Bristol.
A spokesperson from the group said: "We believe that having an explicit, and visible anti-racist presence at the pride parade will send a strong message that the EDL are not welcome in Bristol, and not welcome at Bristol pride.
The EDL claim they are marching to highlight the "Islamification" of Bristol, but opposition groups accuse them of exaggerating racial divisions and inciting racism.
City Labour MPs Dawn Primarolo and Kerry McCarthy and Marvin Rees, the party's candidate for the city's elected mayor, have condemned the EDL march tomorrow.
In a joint statement, they said: "We reject entirely the aims, philosophy and method of the EDL. At a time when decent people from all backgrounds are working together to improve their communities, the EDL seeks to cause division, fear and hatred. There is no place for the EDL in Bristol."
They have urged people who want to protest against the EDL to remain law-abiding and co-operate with the police.
They also urged people to avoid any trouble and maintain a peaceful demonstration.
They said: "We would ask simply that they co-operate with the police, who will be working hard to ensure that public safety is protected.
"By Saturday evening, the EDL will have left Bristol. They will find little support for their dangerous views and we hope, and expect, that they will never return."
The Post has learned that a number of bars and restaurants on Welsh Back, where the EDL will be passing on their march, will close on Saturday.
Mao Bazurto, manager of the Old Duke pub on King Street, said: "We will be closed all of Saturday daytime to avoid any trouble from the protests spilling over near the pub.
"I believe a number of other pubs will be joining us in closing too."
However, Jason Cousins, manager of the Llandoger Trow opposite, said: "I know around here that most of the people are planning to close for the day, but we will plan to stay open.
"If at any time we feel the that our customers or staff are at risk we will close immediately."
On Sunday, 24 hours after the EDL march, a celebration of multiculturalism will be staged in the city.
Bristol Multi-Faith Forum is hosting the All Together Bristol event, supported by Bristol City Council, at 2pm in Millennium Square.