VIDEO: EDL protest controversy as wreath laid in Sheffield

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Hundreds of English Defence League supporters who protested in Sheffield city centre were able to lay their wreath - but have been accused of inciting counter demonstrators.

VIDEO: Press the play button to watch our video filmed in the centre of the EDL protest.

Scenes in Sheffield city centre before the English Defence League protest

Scenes in Sheffield city centre before the English Defence League protest

Shouts of ‘there’s only one Lee Rigby’ were chanted by the EDL as they approached the war memorial in Barker’s Pool, after leader Tommy Robinson had grabbed a megaphone and urged them to hold a ‘peaceful protest’.

Counter-demonstrators tried to provoke the EDL by coming up to the fence separating the two sides and shouting ‘scum’ - although no Jihadi flags were flown, unlike last week.

But, apart from making Churchill ‘V’ signs, the EDL did not respond until being escorted away up West Street minutes later.

The Star filmed EDL supporters, who initially shouted ‘Yorkshire’ changing their chants to ‘Allah is a paedophile’ and ‘if you wear a yellow jacket, you’re a ****’ at police.

EDL protest Sheffield Saturday, June 8'Note paying tribute to Muslim soldiers at Sheffield war memorial placed alongside wreath lead by EDL leader Tommy Robinson, left

EDL protest Sheffield Saturday, June 8'Note paying tribute to Muslim soldiers at Sheffield war memorial placed alongside wreath lead by EDL leader Tommy Robinson, left

Labour MP Mr Blomfield said: “I congratulate The Star for exposing the EDL for what they are. They claimed to be coming here peacefully but I am disgusted that they chanted obscenities at the police and towards Sheffield’s Muslim citizens.”

EDL members said they were raising their arms in a victory salute and mimicking Churchill with a ‘V’ sign.

They said most of their chants were ‘you’re not English any more’ and ‘we are England’, in an attempt to show ‘national pride’.

EDL leader Tommy Robinson, who was with a 500-strong group of supporters, had appealed for calm before setting out from Carver Street car park and again in Barker’s Pool.

EDL protest Sheffield Saturday, June 8'Stand off with police on West Street

EDL protest Sheffield Saturday, June 8'Stand off with police on West Street

There was applause from EDL supporters before they fell silent - while the anti fascist supporters chanted ‘Nazi scum off our streets’.

EDL supporters were then escorted from Barker’s Pool, onto Carver Street and up West Street by police then who formed lines to prevent them escaping down side roads.

A minor scuffle broke out when a small number of EDL members managed to break off onto a back street and were met by counter-demonstrators.

Police broke up the fight.

EDL protest Sheffield Saturday, June 8'Stand off with police on West Street

EDL protest Sheffield Saturday, June 8'Stand off with police on West Street

But a larger confrontation happened at the end of West Street when EDL members who were kettled by police were met by hundreds of anti-fascist and Muslim demonstrators who had followed them from Barker’s Pool.

Lines of police, some wearing riot gear, were sent in to keep the sides apart, as cars, buses and trams were stopped around the Glossop Road junction with the inner ring road for around half an hour.

The EDL was then moved down West Street to outside the Swim Inn, surrounded by police.

EDL members said they were motivated to come along because anti-fascist demonstrators had prevented them laying a wreath in Sheffield last week.

The league has been laying wreaths at war memorials around the country in memory of soldier Drummer Lee Rigby, who was murdered in a London Street.

One man who was with the EDL said: “There are a lot of ex-servicemen here today. I have been refused entry to parts of Sheffield city centre because of wearing a shirt with an England flag. I am being deprived of my liberty.”

EDL protest Sheffield Saturday, June 8'EDL leader Tommy Robinson, second from right in blue jacket, with supporters at the war memorial

EDL protest Sheffield Saturday, June 8'EDL leader Tommy Robinson, second from right in blue jacket, with supporters at the war memorial

Another said: “What happened last week, with flowers which had been laid by EDL members being ripped off the war memorial, was disrespectful to our armed forces.”

EDL supporter John Cross had come to Sheffield from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.

He said: “It was a peaceful walk to the memorial, we had to put up with intimidation from the other demonstrators who were shouting ‘scum’.”

But anti-fascist protesters, who had come from across the region, said they were ‘disgusted’ by the EDL.

Aoife Kyena Devanney had travelled from Bradford and was wearing an orange jump suit to highlight the treatment of Muslim prisoners in Guantanamo Bay by the Americans.

She said: “It’s disgusting that the EDL were able to come here and make Nazi salutes at a war memorial. The police shouldn’t have allowed it.”

Matloub Khan, a journalist from Burngreave, said: “An EDL supporter made a gesture with his hand across his throat at one woman. They should have respected Lee Rigby’s family’s wishes and not come.”

EDL leader Tommy Robinson said Drummer Rigby’s family had not said they should not hold events in the wake of his death.

After the demonstrators had left Barker’s Pool, the EDL wreath remained.

But the war memorial was also decked in a green Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament flag, and a note had been left next to the EDL wreath paying tribute to Muslim soldiers who fought for the British in World Wars one and two.

Senior Sheffield councillor Bryan Lodge, who opened his sandwich shop on Division Street despite the protests, said: “It was a horrible atmosphere today. Sheffield is not like this.”

Coun Mazher Iqbal, council cabinet member for communities, who was asked by police to calm Muslim protesters down, said: “We should be honouring Lee Rigby not having trouble like we have seen today.”

Around 1,000 police were on the streets to keep the two sides apart, at a cost in the ‘high hundreds of thousands of pounds’, according to South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright.

Sheffield Council had encouraged people not connected with the protests to come to the city centre and enjoy a ‘One City, Many Cultures’ festival in the Peace Gardens.

Police said their arrangements ‘worked well’ and that there were no serious incidents of disorder.

While the stand-off continued between police and EDL supporters this afternoon, EDL leader Tommy Robinson Tweeted: “Would have loved to stay and have few beers but gotta get back for BBQ with kids. Would just like to say well done and thank you for your great efforts today in Sheffield you do us proud.”