Protesters put up united front against EDL - video

Have your say

Hundreds of campaigners turned out to show a united front against the English Defence League in Sheffield in the city centre.

The far-right group were outnumbered by an army of campaigners as they arrived at Barkers Pool to lay a wreath for murdered soldier Drummer Lee Rigby.

EDL wreath-laying in Sheffield

EDL wreath-laying in Sheffield

A line of police officers separated the two parties, with members of One Sheffield Many Cultures displaying banners and chanting ‘fascist scum off our streets’.

Members of the Sheffield, Rotherham and Doncaster divisions of the EDL said they had agreed a no-chant policy, but tempers flared in the crowd.

Impassioned speeches promoting messages of tolerance were delivered from the steps of City Hall as a police helicopter circled the sky above.

Father Shaun Smith, chairman of One Sheffield Many Cultures, said: “We have organised this gathering so that any move by the EDL is counter-balanced in public by a body of opinion which wants to unite people.

“Everybody has the right to protest.”

A 26-year-old man from Westfield, who claimed not to be part of the EDL, said: “We came here earlier than the EDL, we just wanted to pay our respects and have a moment’s silence but we are being branded scum.”

Anti-EDL protester Tim Plant, 61, of south-west Sheffield, said: “One of the issues for me is that the people coming out here today are to an extent victims of what has happened to working class people in this country over the last few years. They’re jobless and have awful prospects and they are responding violently to what they see as a threat.

“It’s important that we are here to represent the opposite view - that it is not immigrants or people from different ethnic backgrounds or religions who are our enemies.”

The EDL supporters were escorted by police as they laid the wreath, with peaceful chanting, music and flag-waving from demonstrators on the opposite side continuing.