Page last updated at 18:33 GMT, Saturday, 5 December 2009

Protesters and police clash in Nottingham


The English Defence League protesters clashed with police in Nottingham city centre

Police have clashed with members of the English Defence League during a protest in Nottingham, with 11 people arrested.

Some 300 demonstrators from the EDL marched through the city centre shouting: "We want our country back."

Earlier there was a stand-off between the EDL and Unite Against Fascism, who held a counter protest in the city.

Mounted police held back demonstrators with batons and punches were thrown at police. One female officer and a protester suffered minor injuries.

Many of the EDL demonstrators had their faces covered with hooded tops and scarves and shouted anti-Islamic slogans.

'Kicked police dog'

Other protesters had Union Jacks and St George's flags which they either waved or wrapped around their shoulders as a police officer shouted instructions at the crowd from a helicopter circling overhead.

Some of the group waved placards with slogans such as "Protect Women, No To Sharia" and "No Surrender".

If we don't have a protest then it's letting them come into town and say 'this is our place for the day', which it isn't
Michael Vickery
Unite Against Fascism

The EDL insists it is not a racist organisation and has no links to the BNP and is simply standing against the threat of Islamic extremism.

A spokesman said they had planned the demonstration for Saturday as the Second Battalion the Mercian Regiment was holding a homecoming parade in Nottingham following a recent tour of Afghanistan.

The EDL and UAF exchanged hostile words in the city's Old Market Square but large numbers of police officers managed to keep the rival demonstrators apart.

Protesters and police in Nottingham
Police clashed with English Defence League supporters

Nottinghamshire Police said they had deployed more than 700 officers, including some drafted in from Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, the West Midlands, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and Humberside.

The force said a 29-year-old Nottinghamshire officer received an arm injury while policing the cordon and was taken to Nottingham's Queens Medical Centre for treatment but the injury was not thought to be serious.

One of the 11 men arrested on suspicion of minor public order offences was also taken to hospital, with police saying it was believed he kicked a police dog, which then bit him.

The BBC's Ben Ando said the arrests came when a small number of EDL protesters clashed with police who were containing them near the city's main railway station.


Thousands of Christmas shoppers gathered to watch 500 troops from the Mercian Regiment parade through the city in the morning.

The homecoming parade followed a six-month tour of duty in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan, where the regiment lost five soldiers and dozens of its men were injured.

We came here to support our lads, and the UAF and other militants have turned up
English Defence League member

A 43-year-old EDL member, a serving soldier who did not want to be named, said: "We came here to support our lads, and the UAF and other militants have turned up.

"I think it's disgusting. I look at their protest and there's a Pakistani flag flying with a Muslim symbol. Their protest isn't against the EDL, they're protesting against the troops and it's anti-British.

"They haven't got one Union Jack or St George's Flag. I'm not a fascist, I'm not a Nazi but I am British."

Michael Vickery, from the UAF, said: "It's not good enough not to have any kind of a response (to the EDL presence) because basically, if we don't have a protest then it's letting them come into town and say 'this is our place for the day', which it isn't, it belongs to everyone in Nottingham."

After the rally missiles were thrown at a breakaway group of the EDL but no-one was hurt.

The EDL marchers were led to the railway station by police and began boarding trains back to their homes at around 1630 GMT.

Nottinghamshire's Assistant Chief Constable Ian Ackerley said the force had faced a series of complex events but had achieved "a successful outcome to a very challenging day".

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