TWENTY people were arrested at the English Defence League (EDL) march and counter demonstration – with protestors on both sides taken into custody.
The far-right group had planned to march from Blackhorse Road underground station to the magistrates court for a rally on Saturday afternoon (September 1).
A large crowd of anti-EDL protestors, led by campaign group We Are Waltham Forest, staged their own procession up Hoe Street to Bell Corner – meaning the EDL march was forced to divert from its planned route.
Fighting broke out between demonstrators at the corner of Bromley Road, with smoke bombs, bottles and flower pots thrown.
Missiles were also thrown as the EDL headed back to Blackhorse Road station following their rally.
Met police have today (September 2) confirmed a total of 20 arrests were made – although this figure does not include arrests to prevent a breach of the peace that did not result in protestors being taken into custody.
Nine EDL supporters were arrested for alleged offences including possession of class A drugs, affray, discharging a firework, possession of an offensive weapon, breach of the peace and possession of class B drugs.
A further 11 arrests were made among the counter demonstrators for alleged offences including affray, possession of an offensive weapon and breach of the peace.
Waltham Forest Council had advised residents to stay away from the demonstrations, but police previously said they had no intelligence to suggest the march would be violent.
We Are Waltham Forest yesterday declared a victory over the far-right group on Twitter, writing: “We easily outnumbered the EDL today: thousands of us, not more than 200 EDL. Police have diverted their route after we blocked Forest Road.”
But one anti-EDL protestor accused the police of ‘kettling’ campaigners by using vans to pen the crowd in at Bell Corner.
Soomi Shah, 29, of Walthamstow, said: “We convened at Bell Corner, there were lots of us and it was a pretty great atmosphere.
“Then we got really heavily kettled by the police. We got out because we jumped over the railings.
“I’m Walthamstow born and raised. We are quite happy together here. The mix of people you see here at the protest is no different to what you see in school classrooms.
“We have to exercise some tolerance. What we are not happy about is that there seems to have been more of a platform for the EDL.
“We have come here to protect our town. We are not the invaders.”