Blackburn EDL protest to be 'peaceful'

The English Defence League (EDL) has insisted that its planned protest in Blackburn, Lancashire, will be peaceful after police set a participants' limit.

Lancashire Police has imposed a limit of 3,000 on both the EDL's march and one planned to coincide by counter-demonstrators on Saturday.

The EDL said it was not expecting its protest to result in "trouble".

Police said it had been necessary to restrict numbers for the "safety of the community".

The EDL is planning to demonstrate on Northgate from 1245 to 1345 BST, while the group, Blackburn and Darwen Unite Against Racism (BADUAR) will meet between 1300 and 1500 BST at Sudell Cross.

'Robust action'

Assistant Chief Constable Andy Cooke said: "Everyone has the right to peacefully protest and we have a duty to allow that to happen.

"Our top priority is the safety of the community, people visiting Blackburn, demonstrators and counter-demonstrators and I believe that these restrictions are necessary to minimise the risk of disorder or damage.

"I am very clear that the conditions will allow for peaceful protest on both sides and we have been working closely with both the EDL and counter protest organisers to ensure that they understand their responsibilities.

"We will not tolerate any law breaking, and where crimes are committed we will take robust action."

'Attract wrong'uns'

EDL organiser Gurumat Singh said that the organisation had introduced stewards two years ago to identify and eject trouble-makers from within the EDL.

He said: "We don't expect trouble at all. I understand that our organisation attracts some unsavoury characters from the community and some of them left a racist stigma, but we're getting away from that.

"We're here to peacefully demonstrate and we have a right to congregate.

"We have a right to march and we have a right to demonstrate which is precisely what we want to do.

"I can't be held responsible for every single member of our organisation and we do attract these wrong 'uns but we're here to demonstrate peacefully."

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