Saturday, November 10, 2012
The first ever English Defence League (EDL) march in Norwich saw plenty of tension around the city but limited outbreaks of physical confrontation.
12 noon – 22-year-old man from Norwich arrested in Theatre Street on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon.
1.20pm – 44-year-old man from Telford, Shropshire, arrested in Castle Meadow on suspicion of assault.
3.12pm – 45-year-old man from Bletchley, Milton Keynes, arrested on Gaol Hill on suspicion of committing a public order offence.
3.15pm – 28-year-old man from Norwich arrested in Prince of Wales Road on suspicion of committing a public order offence.
Four arrests were made during the afternoon, which saw around 200 EDL supporters take part in its rally, opposed by an estimated 1,500 supporters of the We Are Norwich group which was formed in response to the EDL march.
The anti-EDL marchers left Chapelfield Gardens at 12.45pm, proceeding down Theatre Street and into Brigg Street to march past the Forum to City Hall, chanting all the way.
The cries of “Whose city? Our city! Whose streets? Our streets!” echoed across Norwich market as the We Are Norwich supporters arrived just before 1pm and settled in for an 45-minute wait for the EDL.
An ugly scene in Castle Meadow hinted at a troublesome afternoon shortly after the EDL had arrived there with a large police escort at 1pm.
One man clambered up onto the grass mound of Norwich Castle above the EDL supporters and began shouting at them.
Using a guitar case as a shield from cigarette lighters being tossed at him, an EDL supporter eventually joined him on the mound and soon a fight broke out between several people.
Eventually this led to one arrest, on suspicion of assault, and one man receiving minor injuries.
It also held up proceedings as police held the EDL group in Castle Meadow until 1.30pm as they restored order.
A slow march through the city, along Opie Street, Bedford Street, Exchange Street and up Gaol Hill, saw the EDL march arrive in front of City Hall just before 2pm.
Hundreds of Saturday shoppers lined the streets watching on, with Gentlemans Walk as busy as ever for a Saturday lunchtime.
Two further arrests were made as tensions ran high during various short speeches to the EDL supporters, with heckles coming from the surrounding crowds.
At 2.35pm the EDL supporters were then led back along the route they had been brought in and allowed to disperse down Prince of Wales Road towards Norwich rail station.
A heavy police presence continued to separate the EDL and We Are Norwich groups on Prince of Wales Road.
But just as things seemed to be winding down, there was one last scuffle, outside the Natwest bank in Prince of Wales Road.
Supporters of the opposing groups appeared to have clashed and around 20 police officers sprinted to the scene to split up the fight, pinning one man to the floor as he was arrested.
- For full police reaction and fallout from the eventful afternoon, see Monday’s newspaper, or re-live the afternoon as it unfolded through the link to our live blog at the top-right of this page.