EDL demo and counter-protest pass off peacefully in Wakefield

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Hundreds of people gathered in Wakefield today to oppose a protest by the far-right English Defence League.

Community group We are Wakefield staged a multi-cultural celebration as a counter-protest to an EDL demonstration in the city centre this afternoon.

Around 100 EDL members gathered on Brook Street amid a heavy police presence for around an hour from 2pm.

Organisers of the We are Wakefield event said more than 300 people attended their demonstration, which was held from 12 noon until around 3.30pm, with speakers including Council leader Peter Box, Wakefield MP Mary Creagh and Bishop of Pontefract Tony Robinson.

It was staged in response to the EDL protest by a coalition of trade unions, faith groups and other organisations.

Ms Creagh said: “I think it’s really important we stand together on behalf of the majority of people in Wakefield. We have had a passionate protest here today.”

Police said 11 males were arrested for minor public order offences this afternoon but the arrests were not made within the two protests.

Mark Milsom, commander of the policing operation, said: “Today’s demonstration and counter-demonstration have passed off peacefully.

“The arrests we made were focussed on preventing persons provoking trouble.

“Our swift action ensured that the genuine protesters and the Christmas shoppers were kept safe and feeling safer.

“This was an operation lead by Wakefield officers patrolling within their own communities and they reported good feedback from the residents who they spoke to.

“I want to thank residents in the city for their calm and considered response and for working with us to help the demonstrations pass off peacefully.”