Far-right group bring fewer than 100 demonstrators to Bradford
It had been arranged for months. The English Defence League would march in Bradford on Saturday 14th November bringing their right-wing ideologies to the heart of the West Yorkshire city.
However, when that day finally did arrive last weekend, the presence seemed as absent as the sunshine with fewer than 100 demonstrators turning out for the gathering.
In response, Bradfordians once again showed their united colours as counter-demonstrators held their own protests.
Beginning on Friday evening, more than 126 people gathered at Victoria Gardens as Bradford Women for Peace organised a ‘unity rally’.
Tying green ribbons to various amenities across the city, as well as handing them out to people, the city turned green in support of the anti-fascist demonstrators. Even the city hall clock was illuminated in green alongside the award-winning fountains.
Faith leaders from across the city were in attendance and stood on stage as a joint-statement was read out on behalf of the different religions.
Speaking on the night, Reverend Suzanna Vernon Yorke, a member of Bradford Women for Peace said: “From 9am we have been out ‘ribboning’ Bradford, making sure green fills the city.
“The green ribbon is the Bradford Women for Peace ‘symbol of unity and peace’ so we wanted to make sure that when the EDL arrive in Bradford, they get a nice green welcome.
“We are a united city and don’t need them to come here to cause trouble.”
Lord Mayor of Bradford, Cllr Joanne Dodds, added: “They (EDL) shouldn’t be coming at all. When you think about where Bradford has been in the last couple of weeks, with the opening of Broadway and everything else, we’re on the up, and then the EDL come along seeking to divide.
“They try to cause problems and we have to commit resources that we shouldn’t have to. It is totally wrong.”
On Saturday, around 80 EDL demonstrators eventually turned up with eight arrests made in total – including one for inciting racial hatred and two for public order offences. Other arrests included breach of the peace and possession of class B drugs.
Neighbourhood officers, council community workers and other leaders from the community were present throughout the day in Bradford to keep residents informed and to offer reassurance.
In thanking everybody, Bradford District Commander Chief Superintendent Simon Atkin said: “Together with our partners, we have well rehearsed plans in place for dealing with these kind of events and the planning that has gone in to today's demonstration has ensured it has passed off with no significant issues.
“In particular, we are pleased that the success of our retail sector and shops, following the opening of the Broadway centre, has been able to continue uninterrupted this weekend.”