Wet weather appeared to dampened spirits at the English Defence League’s latest protest in Rotherham – with barely 70 supporters turning out for the event.
The organisation was back in the town on Saturday for the 12th protest by far-right groups in less than two years, but the weekend’s dwindling numbers were nothing like past protests.
Despite low numbers, EDL supporters were in high-spirits – waving England flags, anti-Islam banners and chanting.
Unlike previous demonstrations the police – who drastically outnumbered demonstrators – confined the event to Greasborough Road, near to the Bridge Inn, where EDL protestors were drinking throughout.
A counter demonstration was organised by Unite Against Fascism near to the Lidl, on Masborough Street, but even less supporters attended this demonstration.
Tempers flared in the EDL camp when two Asian men walked past – sparking angry chants from demonstrators.
A recent independent report ordered by Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Billings said there have been 11 protests in Rotherham since the publication of the Jay report, which revealed at least 1,400 children had been the victims of sexual exploitation, with the majority of offenders coming from the Pakistani community.
The ‘Police Protests in Rotherham’ review said ‘virtually all’ of the 20 protests across South Yorkshire since October 2012 have been organised by far-right groups.
It said: “The protests of recent years have levied a considerable cost – on traders, on relations in the wider community of Rotherham, and on the police (paid for out of public funds).”
The report said the cost of policing recent protests had reached £4 million and traders in the town centre have suffered as a result.