Planned silent march from ‘football lads’ turns violent
Some marchers could be seen fighting with police.
A planned silent march by an anti-Islam “football lads” group through central London descended into violence.
The Democratic Football Lads’ Alliance’s (DFLA) rally spun out of control after supporters pushed through police escorts and got in fights with officers.
Hundreds of mainly middle-aged male supporters were walking from Park Lane to Whitehall before some of them started to break free from police horse escorts on Pall Mall, with many chanting “Whose streets? Our streets”.
Dozens could be seen fighting with baton-wielding officers, with one seen threatening a policeman while being restrained by other marchers then screaming “I’ll kill you”.
Several hostile-looking men had to be held back from joining in the fighting by their friends, and at least one cameraman was seen wearing a helmet.
Scores of police on horseback and others wearing riot gear tried to control the swelling groups with dozens of police vans trying to block the crowds in.
Vans and riot officers had to separate counter-demonstrators, many of them masked, who shouted: “Nazi scum off our streets” at the DFLA.
At Trafalgar square DFLA marchers traded vicious insults with the counter-demonstrators, with both sides gesturing in a hostile manner at each other as riot police sought to keep them apart, bringing traffic around the famous landmark to a standstill.
Scotland Yard said it had made only one arrest so far.
Demonstrator Peter Mantell, 53, from Crayford, told the Press Association: “I detest some of the people I’m walking with. A lot of them hate people because of the colour of their skin.
“I’m a lefty. But I believe we should have a voice against the people who want to hurt everyone and cause harm.”
Mr Mantell said he was a supporter of former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson.
Many members of the DFLA crowd appeared extremely hostile to police, screaming at them for perceived inaction against “paedos and grooming gangs”.
On Facebook, the march organisers had said they were protesting against “returning jihadists”, “thousands of Awol migrants”, “rape gangs and groomers”, and “veterans treated like traitors”.
The rally lost momentum at around 4pm, with around one hundred present on Whitehall where a makeshift stage had been erected for various speakers.
One organiser on stage claimed they were “set up” by police and that anti-fascist protesters had blocked them on their walk.
Before the march, Chief Superintendent Andy Walker of the Metropolitan Police, said: “We police hundreds of events and demonstrations each year and we always facilitate peaceful protest.
“We will adopt a robust intervention policy for anyone who attends and is intent on violence and disorder.”
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