More arrests to follow Walsall EDL rally

Police were today checking CCTV footage after violence at a Midland English Defence League rally.

They forecast more arrests after the Walsall rally.

Police said they would be out and about in the community to reassure people after about 500 English Defence League (EDL) protesters and members of opposition groups lined up in the town centre on Saturday.

Chief Superintendent David Sturman said: “The majority of people attending the two demonstrations were peaceful and law abiding.

Unfortunately a small number of people at the Leicester Street site became a little more aggressive and there was minor disorder for around 10 minutes.

“Arrests were made where necessary and further inquiries will be made to determine if any other offences were committed. That said, this has generally been a successful operation, due in no small part to the excellent work between police, our partner agencies and representatives of our communities.”

He said both groups brought stewards, which helped things to pass with only minor disorder.

“We recognise that the people of Walsall have been both concerned and inconvenienced and we would like to thank them for their tolerance, co-operation and patience.”

After the disorder Lichfield Street was cleared and coaches brought in to take EDL supporters home.

Leicester Street was then sealed off as a crime scene for a short while.

Thirty council cleared litter left in Leicester Street and Gallery Squarebefore nightspots opened.

Council chiefs said the main shopping area of Park Street was largely unaffected but graffiti, litter and debris was found around Leicester Street and damage caused to St Matthew’s Hall, Lichfield Street.

Its beer garden was smashed up, and debris used as missiles. Karl Russell, deputy manager, said the full cost was being assessed.

“Five plant pots ranging between £70 and £200 were smashed, four benches were ripped off the floor along with ashtrays,” he said.

“Four or five slabs were damaged and a rock was thrown through the window. We had already taken the decision not to open until it was all over. Walsall Council came in and cleared up the beer garden for us and we opened at 8pm and people started coming in straight away.”

Town centre Black cab services were suspended on Saturday evening amid concerns over safety.

Private hire vehicles continued to operate normally.