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Police slap Public Order restrictions on EDL’s Saturday march in East End

09:45 04 September 2013

Conditions are being imposed by police on a march and rally planned in London’s East End by the English Defence League on Saturday and a counter protest by anti-fascist demonstrators.

The opposing rallies are being kept apart—the EDL in Aldgate and Unite Against Fascism in Whitechapel—and each limited to 30 minutes under the 1986 Public Order Act.

The EDL march is being restricted between 12 noon and 3pm and has to follow a defined route, starting south of Tower Bridge, along The Minories and Aldgate High Street and not go beyond the corner of Mansell Street.

Any EDL rally is being limited to the farthest point of the march, Aldgate High Street. It has already been barred from using Whitechapel’s Altab Ali Park by Tower Hamlets Council.

The anti-fascist rally would be restricted between Whitechurch Lane and the East London Mosque between 11am and no later than 4pm.

Police say it is necessary to impose conditions “to prevent serious disorder, damage to property, disruption to community life and intimidation”—so the EDL is being prevented from entering the East End itself.

“We must listen to our communities and what concerns them the most,” said Chief Supt Jim Read.

“But we must also uphold the right to protest—a fundamental part of our society.”

The restrictions are aimed at preventing a repeat of the notorious ‘Battle of Cable Street’ in 1936 when Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts followed a similar route and attempted to enter Whitechapel High Street in the heart of the Jewish tailoring district, but were prevented by anti-fascist demonstrators. Mosley diverted to Cable Street, but was also met with fierce opposition.

Chief Supt Read added: “The right to protest must be balanced against the right of people to go about their day without fear of violence, disorder or disruption.

“These conditions prevent EDL from entering residential areas and religious premises which would have been unnecessarily intimidating and likely to cause disorder and disruption.”

Scotland yard warns that it will “adopt a robust arrest policy” on anyone intent on violence and disorder. High visibility patrols will be operating during Saturday’s demonstrations.

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