EDL not welcome

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It was the day the English Defence League came to town.

And there were thousands who turned up to give them anything but a warm welcome upon their arrival.

Scenes in Sheffield city centre before the English Defence League protest

Scenes in Sheffield city centre before the English Defence League protest

Men and women, young and old black and white, trade unionists, church leaders, students. People from every walk of life.

Members of the Unite Against Fascism Group and One Sheffield Many Cultures joined many without affiliation to either group who just wanted to voice their opposition.

Most were held by a steel barrier erected at the bottom of Barkers Pool.

A smaller group were allowed to gather on the City Hall steps.

Paul Scarrott, Secretary of Sheffield UAF, said:

“Today we will see Sheffield people stand proudly together to defend our multicultural city. We won’t let the racist EDL divide us.”

Student Natalie Smith, 20, agreed: “We don’t want their type in this city.”

Alistair Tice, 56, from the Manor said: “We oppose the cynical attempts by the EDL and others to exploit the murder of Lee Rigby to spread racism and division in our communities.

There was plenty of chanting.

“Black and white unite to smash the EDL,” they sang.

But student Alice Palmer, 26, from Nether Edge used a different tactic to get her message across.

She carried a banner which read: “Welcome to Sheffield. Try some Henderson’s Relish, open your mind and have a safe trip home.”

Her reason: “Everyone should be made welcome to this city, even the EDL. We are not going to be stirred up by their hatred.”

Up to a thousand members of the EDl made their way down Division Street.

Carrying a megaphone their leader Tommy Robinson marshalled them in silence to a fenced off area around the cenotaph.

They layed their wreath in memory of Drummer Rigby.

Then, arms raised in a victory salute they cheered and sang “Your Not English anymore” as the counter protestors retorted with “Fascist Scum.”

Minutes later they were gone back up towards the pubs on West Street.

Five minutes later they were being pursued by members of the UAF as the massed ranks of police, their dogs and horses toiled to keep the two factions apart.