Peter Marshall | 08.03.2010 21:22 | Anti-racism
UAF gather at Old Palace Yard 1
UAF gather at Old Palace Yard 2
EDL at Morpeth Arms 1
EDL at Morpeth Arms 2
EDL at Tate Britain
Free Speech EDL style
St George mask
Officer threatens EDL - he soon got told to put it away!
Police grab an EDL steward
Police escort EDL man back to pen
EDL + BNP = Nazi-racist thugs
Together with two other photographers I decided to go into the crowd and take pictures, and other photographers soon followed us. The EDL were on their best behaviour, with many wanting to pose for pictures, although I did get abuse from a few, as well as a lot of complaints about media coverage.
Shortly after 1pm the march formed up and made its way to Tate Britain, where it was held by police. Eventually we were told that the UAF had blocked the road, and the EDL decided to go back to the pub, coming back to outside the Tate half an hour or so later for a rally.
This was addressed by their Sikh member and another speaker. During the speeches one of the stewards made repeated attempts to stop photographers taking pictures of the crowd, holding his hands in front of our lenses. It was curious and counter-productive and there were far too many photographers for it to be in any way effective.
But with one or two exceptions such as this, the EDL were obviously making a great effort to control their members, and although there were racist chants, I didn't hear those about Allah which they had asked people not to use. On several occasions too I saw the EDL stewards restraining their marchers who were getting out of hand, and although I was threatened a few times while taking pictures I felt in no real danger.
The EDL were then escorted by police and police horses to a pen in Old Palace Road. Most of the UAF supporters had by this time been moved to the other side of the road behind the permanent barriers around Parliament, with some kept behind the fence in Victoria Gardens. There was a lot a shouting and a few minor incidents, but police largely kept the two sides apart.
At one point one of the mounted police drew his baton and threatened the marchers, but he didn't actually use it and another officer quickly edged his horse across and told him to put it away.
I didn't see any arrests at this time, but a few minutes later on of the UAF supporters who approached the EDL pen was marched away to a van. I also saw several EDL being escorted back to their pen after trying to reach the UAF line. (I heard that several UAF supporters had been arrested when police had cleared the road earlier.)
After an hour or so of the two sides facing each other the numbers seemed to be dwindling (although most of the EDL were still held in their pen) and I left.
Some more pictures on Demotix:
More pictures on My London Diary in a day or two