Police create ‘culture of fear’ around EDL demo

Wrong place, wrong time. Anti-social behaviour laws are used to ID teenager

The EDL came to Leicester and did what they were good at – they had a few beers, fought the police (hospitalising at least one who was dragged from police lines unconscious) and shouted some anti-Islamic chants. Then they broke out of police lines, had a brief go at some local lads, smashed a couple of windows and went home.

The police, however, created more fear amongst the people of Leicester than the EDL could ever do. As soon as the demo was called, they were out amongst Mosques, community groups, youth centres and anywhere else where they would be listened to. Their message was stark: attending counter demonstrations would lead to serious rioting and violence, and young Muslims would be locked up for a long time. People should stay at home.

unconscious cop is pulled from the lines

They persuaded local groups, many of whom are in PREVENT funded partnerships with the police, to warn their members and followers to stay away from planned demonstrations. Imams called upon the community not to respond to EDL provocation, and to ignore them. The unspoken message was that anyone (EDL or Muslim) who went into town to protest must be looking for trouble, and would be treated as such by the police.

Operation ‘stay safe’ meant that anyone under the age of 18 they could be picked up by police on the day and taken into ‘police protection’ to ‘keep them from harm’. Shops were advised to board up their windows and shoppers to keep out of the city centre. Public sector workers were warned not to attend the demo even in a personal capacity. Youth centres were ordered to open to provide ‘distraction’, and more activities were organised for the 11 – 25 age range than has been seen in Leicester for many a year.

Unsurprisingly, faced with the prospect of out of control violence or being picked up by the police, most of the community chose to stay at home. Counter demonstrations, organised both by local people and by the UAF, remained relatively small, with police estimating 700 at the UAF site.

'Domestic Extremism' spotter Ian Skivens from the National Public Order Intelligence Unit watches the EDL

Police locked down the city, closing most of it off. They pointed long zoom camera lenses at anyone who looked as though they were coming to demonstrate, for either side. Those who found themselves wearing the wrong clothes, or having the wrong colour skin for the section of the city they were in, came under aggressive police scrutiny. One group of white boys in casual clothes were lined up against a wall, filmed and had their details taken because they were apparently ‘about to engage in anti-social behaviour’, although they had done nothing at all to make anyone think that.

Despite all this, a few hundred local people, almost entirely young, Muslim and male, did come out on the streets to protect their communities and Mosques from EDL attack. There were a few skirmishes after the EDL, predictably, broke out of police pens.

After it was all over, police and councillors congratulated themselves on a ‘successful operation’. Next month, the EDL will travel to a different city, but then it will be ‘somebody else’s problem’.

Evidence gatherers came in pairs - one with a video, one with a digital stills with a zoom lens for ID shots

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18 Responses to Police create ‘culture of fear’ around EDL demo

  1. Ron Broxted says:

    Good post. Plod tried this in Southall a hearts and minds operation. It started with photogenic police asking Mrs Kaur about local problems but after a short while it was “Who talks to whom? Who is into radical politics? Who are the local agitators?”

  2. Andy Haden says:

    The police also handed out leaflets to all taxi firms operating in & around Dudley prior to the last EDL demo there, warning the drivers to stay away from the town centre, ‘just in case’ they got attacked.

  3. Ron Broxted says:

    Very Orwellian. Next they will change their title to the “Ministry of Love”.

  4. Bobby Dazzler says:

    You like to trump up some bollocks. No police officer was dragged out of police lines unconscious. I was there and saw him. He injured his leg and was dragged out of police lines shouting obscenities. You can clearly see in your photo of him that he is clutching his right leg. How many unconscious people do you know that can grab hold of something whilst knocked out??

    Whilst you may not like the police, please don’t make things up and and deceive people to support your cause. Just report the truth and people will respect you more.

  5. admin says:

    I can only report what I saw. I saw the copper being dragged, as a dead weight, unmoving – it was a fair assumption that he was unconscious. It is possible that this was not the case, and he was injured in some other way, perhaps with a broken leg – the police did not exactly allow us much time to look, as we were pushed back by horses and riot police.

    Bobby Dazzler – I don’t know why you accuse me of deceiving anyone – in what way does it change the points that I have made if he did turn out to have a broken leg instead of a sore head? Or is this just an attempt to deflect from the main point of this story?

    Andy Haden – thanks for your comment, I wasn’t aware that they were doing that, although it does not surprise me. With the exception of operation ‘stay safe’ which I am not aware has been used before, many of the tactics the police employed in Leicester were also used in Dudley, Bradford. Aylesbury etc.

    The police appear to think that anything is legitimate if it might avoid a few swinging fists between EDL and local Muslim youth – including deliberately hyping up fears of community breakdown and race riots, misusing legislation designed to protect children, and pressurising local small businesses to shut down / stay away and lose crucial trade and income.

  6. Barry says:

    “The police created more fear amongst the people of Leicester than the EDL could ever do.” As a lifelong anti-fascist, and a veteran of standing up to the NF in Lewisham, and a resident of Leicester I do not believe this statment to be true. One may certainly question the advice given to people to stay away from the city centre but it was the EDL, and the EDL alone, who brought fear, thuggery, viciousness, fascism and pure nastiness onto the streets of our city. One may question police tactics and advice but it was the EDL who brought fear and violence to our streets last Saturday – they are the enemy to be resisted and confronted.

  7. Loon Watch says:

    When did this become EDL watch – have we given up on opposing the FIT?

  8. Ron Broxted says:

    Dear Barry (and Loon) didn’t Hartshorn mention the “summer of rage” last year? It never materialized but it must have been good for a few headlines in the red tops.

  9. Loon Watch says:

    Apathy ruled over the summer – nobody could get any numbers out ( with the exception of the EDL)

  10. Loon Watch says:

    Why didn’t Fitwatch try and block the FIT while they were watching the EDL?

  11. Sarah Davis says:

    I was just checking out this sight after being shown one of your youtube clips in a lecture yesterday. I love the idea of people watching the watchers and wish you well. However childish name calling and un-carefully worded reporting does not help your cause. If you stick to the facts you will find people much more sympathetic to your cause. The vid was well done though, and I hope you get a kick out of 150 Aussie students watching a bunch of confused looking blueys (or bobbys) and taking notes. I’m sure I’m not the only one who showed my mates and family when I got home! Keep it up guys. :)

  12. admin says:

    Some comments that have been made on this blog have been removed as they have no relevance to Fitwatch. While we do not censor comments, and welcome contributions from all opinions, we will not tolerate abuse of this blog for name-calling and personal arguments that have nothing to do with this group or the subject matter.

  13. Unsure says:

    Still a bit worried about the FITWATCH policy – is ALL fit activity to be opposed? Or is it only that we disagree with – hence not opposing FIT activity against the EDL?

  14. admin says:

    That is a very good question, unsure, and deserves a response. There are a number of people involved in this blog, and many of these may think differently to me, so I can only give you a personal opinion. There is no ‘fitwatch policy’. Different opinions, debate and discussion are welcomed!

    So, PERSONALLY SPEAKING, I do not accept the police policy of photographing, data gathering and IDing people who go on political demonstrations, whether that is EDL or any other demo. If people do things that are unlawful, presumably the police can move in and arrest them – they don’t need to photograph everyone who steps of the bus. I don’t agree that the EDL should be on a ‘extremist database’ any more than anyone else. In fact, there should be no such thing as an ‘extremist’ database in the first place.

    The post above carries pictures of young men who are possibly, or even probably EDL sympathisers, forced to give their name and addresses to camera or face arrest. That is of dubious legality, and they should be concerned about what is done with that info.

    I, personally, strongly dislike the politics of the EDL, and would stand against them. While I can relate to a lot of their anger, targeting the Muslim population is plain wrong. And plain daft – just about the only thing that seperates some of the EDL kids from the Muslim ones is the colour of their skin and the fact that some of them go to Mosque. The frustrating thing is they’d have a hell of fighting force if they all got together and started taking on some of the people that are really to blame for the shit we are in :-)

    But the tactics of Fitwatching – resisting FIT, blocking cameras, not co-operating with filming, not giving them names and addresses – can be done as easily by the EDL as anyone else, and I’d suggest the EDL gives some thought to this. In doing that, I’d wish them luck.

  15. admin says:

    Barry, you wrote
    “it was the EDL, and the EDL alone, who brought fear, thuggery, viciousness, fascism and pure nastiness onto the streets of our city. One may question police tactics and advice but it was the EDL who brought fear and violence to our streets last Saturday – they are the enemy to be resisted and confronted”

    You have a strong point, but whipping up fear amongst people, as the police did, does a lot to prevent people from resisting and confronting the EDL. That was the point of the article. If people are so frightened of prison sentences, mass race riot or being labelled an ‘extremist’ that they won’t step out of the front door, that helps nobody. Antifascists could do with people having a little more anger, and a little less fear.

  16. Ron Broxted says:

    The police have a very difficult job dealing with most of the left-wing fascist scum that make up the UAF. When I joined the UAF to research them and obtain a membership list some 14 months ago, I found that many were not remotely interested in Muslims or their treatment. They just wanted some left wing commie state where democracy would become a distant memory.

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