WALTHAMSTOW: Campaigners celebrate 'victory' over EDL (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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WALTHAMSTOW: Campaigners celebrate 'victory' over EDL
A MAIN road in Walthamstow has been part closed by police this lunchtime for a rally against the far-right English Defence League (EDL).
An estimated 250 people have turned out for the static protest in Hoe Street, outside the former EMD cinema.
Police say the demonstration must end at 2pm when the road will be reopened.
The EDL, which claims to be a movement opposed to Islamic extremism but which critics say is racist, wanted to march through the borough today (Saturday October 27).
But the government approved a ban on all marches for 30 days earlier this week following police intelligence that there could be violence and disruption.
The Met then also imposed special "conditions" on protesting which prevent the EDL and organisations associated with it from coming to Waltham Forest and holding a static protest.
The Guardian witnessed two youths wearing flag of St George badges being escorted away from Walthamstow town centre by police at around 10.30am.
But there have otherwise been no signs of potential supporters of the EDL in Walthamstow and the mood is generally calm in the town centre.
There is a heavy police presence at train stations in the borough and the police have been stopping cars in areas such as the Bakers Arms on the Walthamstow and Leyton border.
Today's anti-EDL rally has been organised by campaigners from Unite Against Fascism (UAF) and umbrella group We Are Waltham Forest (WAWF), who are still legally allowed to hold static protests in the borough.
The EDL has been given permission to hold a static protest outside the Houses of Parliament in Westminster at 1pm instead.
It said it would apply again to return to Walthamstow when the 30 day ban on marches expires.
The council has organised a funday to celebrate the diversity of Waltham Forest in Walthamstow town centre.
It includes a funfair and activities such as table tennis, although there appeared to be a low attendance at the events this morning.
Waltham Forest Council and the Guardian campaigned for the march to be banned, with more than 5,000 people signing a petition in support.
This website will be updated later today with a full report on the day's events.
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