Six arrests were made during an English Defence League (EDL) rally in Halifax today.
Up to 150 EDL members marched from The Old Post Office public house and then took part in a short demonstration outside Calderdale Council offices Northgate House.
During the march there was some disorder on the part of a minority of the protestors. In total six arrests were made for offences including breach of the peace, racially aggravated public disorder and indecent exposure.
During the rally, EDL members chanted “Muslim paedos off our streets” and “E-E-EDL” and there was a heavy police presense across the town centre.
Neighbourhood officers and Council staff were present throughout the day in Halifax to keep residents informed and offer reassurance. Support was also provided throughout the operation by British Transport Police.
Calderdale District Commander Chief Superintendent Dickie Whitehead said: “Together with our partners, we have well-rehearsed plans in place for dealing with these kind of events and the planning that has gone in to today’s demonstration has ensured that it has passed off with no significant issues. This has been helped no end by the co-operation and support of local residents and businesses.
Holly Lynch, Labour MP for Halifax, said: “I have spoken to the local police this morning I would like to thank them for their hard work, liaising with both organisers and the local community to ensure that today’s march can take place without incident and with the minimum disruption to the town centre.
“Halifax has a proud multicultural heritage and whilst EDL members have the right to protest, they have a responsibility to ensure that this happens in a peaceful manner. I want to reassure Halifax that working across the community towards a zero tolerance approach to child sexual exploitation will be a key focus for me in the coming weeks and months.”
Police have warned potential troublemakers that they will not tolerate any violence, damage or acts of anti-social behaviour.
And whilst acknowledging the EDL’s legal right to hold a peaceful protest, Calderdale divisional commander Chief Superintendent Dickie Whitehead said the police will not tolerate any forms of crime.
“The EDL, like any group, have the legal right to peaceful protest,” he said.
“While we have to facilitate that right, West Yorkshire Police and Calderdale Council will not tolerate any acts of anti-social behaviour, damage, violence or other criminal behaviour from any individual or group. Peaceful protest is lawful and everyone’s right, but the police and the council will plan to minimise any impact on local businesses, shops and communities.”
Chief Supt Whitehead said the police are in contact with the event organisers and will continue to speak with them in the run up to the protest.
A spokesperson on the Yorkshire EDL Halifax Division Page said: “Please remember we will be marching through the town centre on a busy shopping day and the eyes of the general public will be on you so respect the town and the locals.”
West Yorkshire Police and Calderdale Council have thanked residents and businesses for their suppor.
What are the EDL hoping to achieve?
The Halifax branch of the Yorkshire EDL have given their reasons for rallying today in Halifax.
A statement on the group’s Facebook page reads:
“Not long to go now people till we march in Halifax to highlight child grooming gangs that are on the rise in Yorkshire. If you have young children it is your duty to march with us don’t sit back and think it will not ever affect me or my family. They is over 1400 family’s in Rotherham who was thinking the same thing till there own children started been groomed. It is not just Halifax or Rotherham that have grooming gangs abusing underage girls it is in every town & city in the UK (Look it up on Google). Some of you will be thinking leave it to the police? well we have for the last 30 years but all that as shown is the police have know about the grooming gangs and done noting about it and in some cases have covered up grooming gangs and turned a blind eye to it. And in this past year it as come out some police have been arrested in up and down the country for have child porn on their computers. so the police are not any help like everything else in this country it is down to the people to come together and force people to take notice and act on forcing our weak government to act.”