Despite their name, The UAF are lineal descendants of Hitler's brownshirts. They deliberately converged on a patriotic demonstration with the aim of breaking it up. The arrests tell the story. Some of the patriots hit back, of course. Predictably, a common headline in news outlets was: "Riot police break up right wing protest". A more accurate headline would be: "Police fail to stop attack on patriotic rally"
At least 67 people have been arrested and several injured in violent clashes between right-wing and anti-fascist extremists and UK police during a town center demonstration in England. Controversial right-wing group The English Defence League (EDL) organised the rally in Victoria Square, Bolton, in England's north. A counter-demonstration by Unite Against Fascism (UAF) was also being held, and hundreds of police officers battled to keep control of the rival groups.
About 4000 protesters descended on the town, with roughly equal numbers in both camps. "This is not a peaceful protest and we are facing a lot of hostility. We will take swift action when confronted with disorder. "The number of arrests already made is a clear indication that this is not a peaceful protest and some demonstrators are determined to cause trouble. "The actions of some demonstrators is resulting in injuries to others. This is not acceptable."
Riot police and mounted officers armed with batons tried to keep the crowds in check in front of the town hall. Police dogs were deployed in a bid to control the crowds and a police helicopter was also dispatched. At least 55 of those arrested are from the UAF and nine are from the EDL, according to Greater Manchester Police.
Weyman Bennett, the UAF joint secretary who organised the rally, was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit violent disorder, police said.
Several protesters were taken to the hospital for treatment to minor injuries, police said. Two members of the public were also injured by protesters and taken to a nearby shop for treatment. Most of the protesters, from both groups, later left the square.
Officers frogmarched EDL demonstrators back towards the railway and bus stations, while they continued to chant: "We want our country back." UAF members left the square, chanting "Whose streets? Our streets." The EDL describes itself as a peaceful, non-political group campaigning against "militant Islam." But ugly scenes also marked one of their protests in Manchester last year, with 44 arrests and 10 injuries.
The two factions were meant to stay within two designated areas in the square, separated by steel barriers. But a large number of protesters "intent on causing disorder" broke away from the protest site, police said. Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan, from Greater Manchester Police, said earlier: "There have been unwarranted attacks on police lines that have resulted in injuries.
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