War veterans to hold counter protest in Dudley when Britain First comes to town
War veterans have announced they are planning to hold a counter demonstration in Dudley next month on the same day far right group Britain First comes to town.
The group, which acts under the name 'I'm a UK veteran and not a racist, and proud of it', says it has been angered by Britain First's use of the military to 'inflame public opinion to their cause'.
Members said they were offended by their use of images of Lee Rigby and that his family would not approve. They are also unhappy that Britain First sells pin badges bearing the image of the poppy.
More than 2,000 members of the far right group are expected to protest over plans to build a new mosque in the town off Hall Street on May 9.
The military group, which has around 500 members, has now said it will hold a counter demonstration at the same time.
The ex-servicemen will be led by John McKnight, a Royal Navy veteran with 16 years of service, who said he plans to confront Britain First leader Paul Golding, who is expected to attend, but maintained their protest would be peaceful.
Mr McKnight said: "As we now have a confirmed time and date at which we can confront him, it seemed a shame to waste such an opportunity.
"Therefore, a small group of us intend to confront Mr Golding at this march, to show him what we think of him.
"We intend to make our statement in a peaceful manner, and will not rise to any taunts that they throw at us.
"We feel that once our statement is shown to the world, people will wake up to the fact that Britain First do not represent or support us in any way."
Protests will return to the streets of Dudley just three months after the English Defence League and a counter anti-fascism group held their own demonstrations.
The upcoming demonstrations are expected to be heavily policed in a bid to avoid violent scenes. There were 29 arrests when 600 EDL and the anti-fascism supporters came to Dudley in February.
Dudley Police has organised a series of public meetings in the run up to the protests to discuss the policing operation planned on the day and to provide reassurance to traders and residents.
More than 50 members of the public arrived for the meeting at Dudley Council House last Thursday to raise their concerns. Those who attended were advised that the event is likely to be smaller than the protest in February but were warned it would not be business as usual for traders or shoppers.
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