Twenty nine arrests as EDL protests in Dudley

Twenty nine people were arrested as 600 EDL supporters descended on Dudley to protest plans for a new mosque.

Twenty nine arrests as EDL protests in Dudley

Police said their operation ran smoothly, and the day was largely seen as passing off peacefully.

Around 50 people opposed to the EDL had also protested, but there was no repeat of the violent scenes that have marred previous EDL demos.

Those arrested were held on suspicion of public order offences, officers heard.

The EDL were confined to Priory Road, while opposition demonstrators were in nearby Castle Street.

Chief Superintendent Chris Johnson said: "While West Midlands Police has no power to ban people from exercising their democratic right to express their opinions through protest, we have been planning the policing operation for months."

"Local officers have been meeting regularly with organisers, councillors, business leaders, community representatives and others to share information on the protests.

"Throughout all of our meetings, we encouraged businesses to open as usual. Some, however, took the independent decision to close. I fully understand why they made that choice given the impact the last demonstration in Dudley had on the town."

Council leader Councillor Pete Lowe said: "We have worked closely with police in the build-up and throughout today, and thankfully this afternoon's operation ran smoothly.

"We will continue to liaise with our police colleagues over the coming days as we recognise events like this can lead to an increase in community tension. We have a proud tradition across Dudley of people of all backgrounds getting on well and we have no doubt, this will continue to be the case.

A protester makes his views known

"There were far fewer people than anticipated at the protests but despite the fact the operation ran as well as could be expected we must not lose sight of the fact that local businesses have been hit hard. The reality is that the fear and anxiety caused by these kinds of protests meant that the majority of businesses did not open on what would normally be their busiest day's trade. We have said all along that the EDL is not welcome in Dudley borough but there are no legal powers to stop them holding a protest.

"However, we support our local people and local businesses and we will be looking to help them make up for this lost trade by holding a family day in the town next Sunday.

"We are liaising with businesses in relation to stores opening up through the town on the Sunday and the event will include free entertainment to encourage people to come along and support their town."

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