VIDEO: Police hold back protesters as hundreds gather for Sheffield EDL rally

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Supporters of the English Defence League charged police lines and hurled missiles when the right-wing group held a demonstration in Sheffield today.

Hundreds turned out for the rally at Sheffield Lane Top, which was sparked by now-abandoned proposals to turn The Pheasant pub on Barnsley Road into a mosque.

Police and EDL supporters at Sheffield Lane Top

Police and EDL supporters at Sheffield Lane Top

A counter demonstration was also held by Unite Against Fascism and One Sheffield Many Cultures.

Police said around 400 EDL supporters attended, with 250 involved in the counter-protest, while four arrests were made - two for drunk and disorderly, one for criminal damage to a police vehicle and one for possession of cannabis.

There was a heavy police presence throughout North Sheffield this afternoon. As well as officers from South Yorkshire Police, backup was drafted in from forces across the north of England, including Greater Manchester, Humberside, Merseyside and Northumbria.

Roads around Sheffield Lane Top were closed as the EDL group walked from Parson Cross to Elm Lane, where they were contained by police in front of a row of shops.

The counter demonstration was held further away on Hatfield House Lane.

As the rally got under way, chanting EDL supporters rushed towards police, who waved batons and forced back the protesters, some of whom threw empty drink cans. Officers with riot shields were brought in, as well as police on horseback, to prevent further disorder.

English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson appealed for calm and gave a speech, saying: “We don’t want any more mosques in this country.”

Meanwhile, the UAF and One Sheffield Many Cultures waved placards and banners, chanting ‘EDL go to hell’ and ‘This is our city’.

The protests finished at around 3pm.

Superintendent Colin McFarlane, from South Yorkshire Police, said: “Hundreds of extra police officers have been on duty today, drafted in from forces up and down the country, to ensure that disruption was kept to a minimum.

“We planned to take a very firm stance, with a positive policing style, aimed at protecting the general public, businesses and those participating in the assembly.

“It is a measure of the success of the operation that only four people were arrested for relatively minor offences and I am pleased the event has passed without serious disorder or injury.

“I would like to thank the public of Sheffield for their patience and tolerance and also express how extremely proud I am of the police officers who have showed a huge degree of professionalism and understanding managing the demonstration today.”

The Firth Park Cultural Centre had planned to convert The Pheasant into a mosque, but is believed to have dropped the bid because of the high sale price.

Last week The Star revealed that the bill for policing the rally could total around £800,000.

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