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EDL supporters clash with police during east London demo

PUBLISHED: 17:27 03 September 2011

There were some clashes with police and arrests as members of the English Defence League protested in east London despite a ban on marches.

Officers were out in force, with riot police, mounted police and dogs on the streets to maintain control.

Dozens of police vans lined up in Whitechapel Road from Aldgate East to Vallance Road in preparation for the EDL’s arrival in Tower Hamlets earlier this afternoon.

EDL members said they had come from as far as Scotland as they were escorted by police through Aldgate.

A large crowd gathered outside the East London Mosque as word spread that the EDL was heading in from central London.

Police said EDL and counter-protesters from Unite Against Fascism assembled at their respective demonstration points.

The atmosphere was described by police as “calm and peaceful”.

Scotland Yard said there had been four arrests for offences including affray, possession of drugs and being drunk and disorderly.

A spokesman said two groups had gathered - one group of around 1,000 people, believed to be EDL members, at Aldgate Tube, and a separate group of around 1,500 counter-protesters in Whitechapel Road at its junction with Aldgate East.

“A robust and proportionate policing plan is in place to facilitate peaceful protest, prevent disorder and minimise disruption on the local communities,” the spokesman said.

There were some clashes between demonstrators and police, with bottles and firecrackers thrown by members of the EDL.

Clashes broke out as EDL leader Stephen “Tommy” Lennon addressed the crowd, telling them he had broken his bail conditions to be at the protest.

The EDL told the Met Police it would hold a “static” demonstration in the wake of home secretary Theresa May’s 30-day ban against marching in six areas.

More than 3,000 officers are available amid fears of violence and clashes with opposition groups, including UAF.

It is the first time since the Brixton riots 30 years ago that police have requested powers to stop marches in London.

Chief Superintendent Julia Pendry said: “Following the appalling disorder in London in recent weeks, it’s important London, its communities and businesses, can return to normality.”

Ms Pendry added: “We have not sought this power since 1981 - which shows how we do not take this lightly.”

While concern of unrest centres on the deprived inner city borough of Tower Hamlets, Mrs May also banned marches in Newham, Waltham Forest, Islington, Hackney and the City of London amid fears that demonstrations could spill across the border.

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