Fears new Rotherham protest could lead to violence

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‘Far-right’ protesters are set to gather in Rotherham this weekend to demonstrate against the 1,400 victims of child abuse which have been the subject of a national scandal.

The South East Alliance is due to meet in the town for a demonstration, but the newly appointed council commissioners have pleaded for the group to refrain from violence.

It is not known what the group is planning, but Rotherham Council said it is ‘seriously concerned’ about the event.

It follows on from a protest by the EDL in the town last summer, which resulted in a massively increased police presence several arrests. See the video here: {http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/video-violence-breaks-out-at-rotherham-edl-protest-1-6839465|What happened when the EDL came to Rotherham|Click here}

A statement from Rotherham Council’s newly appointed Government commissioners said: “We are seriously concerned to learn of a possible demonstration in Rotherham this Saturday.

“Such activity is not welcome in our town.

“We are most concerned that demonstrators from outside the area will cause much disruption to local people and businesses, and will create anxiety for all our residents.

“Whilst we fully support free speech and the upholding of democratic rights, we do not support violent protest.”

Lead Commissioner Sir Derek Myers added: “In Rotherham, we are trying to build a new start for the whole community, to tackle the wrongs that have been experienced by so many children, and to build a safe and harmonious community.

“We have come to Rotherham to work to these ends and we will not tolerate ongoing violent incidents which impact on our communities.

“We ask those who are intending to come to Rotherham this Saturday not to do so.

“The council is working with the local Police to ensure residents and businesses can continue to go about their business safely and we ask those who do come to Rotherham to behave appropriately.”

Coun Chris Read, Leader of Rotherham Borough Council, said: “In recent months our town has been blighted by a number protests. While I respect everyone’s right to peaceful free speech, the nature of these demonstrations have intimidated local people and damaged our local economy.

“The council’s failings are well documented. But now Rotherham needs a fresh start - one in which supporting victims and survivors to rebuild their lives, and bringing the abusers to justice, is at the heart of what we do.

“People intent on bringing disruption and anger to our streets do not help achieve either of these things. Let us be united against child abuse, not divided by it, and let us begin to rebuild our town.”

A statement by South Yorkshire Police said: Information on social media suggests there will be a potential protest in Rotherham by the South East Alliance (SEA) on Saturday 7 March.

“However, South Yorkshire Police has received no formal confirmation a gathering will take place and the group has not engaged with us.

“A police operation will be in place to ensure any potential protest passes without incident.

“We continue to work with partners, local communities and businesses to keep them informed.

“We expect everyone taking part in the event to behave appropriately and respect the right of other people to go about their daily lives with a minimum of disruption.”