police say they are confident an English Defence League (EDL) rally and counter demonstration in Newcastle today will pass off peacefully – despite admitting Drummer Lee Rigby’s death “may have heightened community concerns” about the events.
Hundreds of supporters of the right-wing EDL are expected to take to the streets of the city centre this afternoon for a march that has been several months in the planning.
Opponents calling themselves Newcastle Unites have also been in discussions with Northumbria Police about a counter demo.
The Northumbria force’s Chief Supt Gary Calvert said: “We appreciate that the events in London may have heightened community concerns about this weekend’s planned protests in Newcastle.
“We are constantly monitoring the situation and will continue to adapt accordingly.
“There haven’t been any incidents or issues locally and there’s nothing to suggest anything is going to happen here.
“However, there are extra patrols out across the force area to reassure communities.
“We have been planning for [the] events for several months and have adequate resources in place to deal with any eventuality.
“Public safety is our absolute priority and our aim at all times is to allow these events to pass off peacefully with the minimum of disruption.
“We’ve been working with the leaders of the groups involved to ensure the day passes off peacefully. We expect everyone to respect that, and also to respect the rights of others on the day.”
Around 250 supporters of the EDL gathered near the scene of Drummer Rigby’s death on Wednesday night, with bottles being thrown at police.
A police horse punched by a football thug will be back on duty in Newcastle – the city where the attack took place – for today’s EDL rally.
A 45-year-old man was arrested after Bud, who belongs to West Yorkshire Police, was hit by a right hook during disturbances that followed Newcastle United’s 3-0 defeat to Sunderland last month.
Bud’s presence at the EDL march was specially requested by Northumbria Police.