The English Defence League (EDL) are a small fascist organisation which has been demonstrating against "Islamic extremism" in towns across the UK in recent months. Anti-fascist organisations say the group is anti-Muslim and fascist.
On Saturday 300-400 EDL members descended on Nottingham where most were held in a police pen near the castle all day. Their presence was opposed by a number of organisations including Nottinghamshire Stop the BNP and Unite Against Fascism (UAF) who rallied in Market Square and then marched down Friar Lane. A large number of autonomous anti-fascists and local youths managed to avoid being kettled by the police.
The EDL demonstration repeatedly attacked police lines on Castle Boulevard but failed to escape their escorts. Fighting also broke out several times outside pubs in which EDL members were drinking, and photographs have been published showing EDL demonstrators urinating against the walls of Nottingham Castle.
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Unsurprisingly, the police drafted in officers from surrounding counties and spent an estimated £1m on policing the day's events. Roads were closed and trams into town did not go beyond the Royal Centre, while the statue of Robin Hood was boarded up for protection.
The EDL emerged in the aftermath of protests against British troops held by Islamic groups in Luton. They continue to claim that they are neither racist nor fascist. Seig heiling supporters at EDL demos and death threats to journalists who report their protests critically, tell a different story.
Anti-fascists are claiming the day as a victory saying that "the EDL were hassled and flanked everywhere they went."