Huge police operation for Leicester EDL protest

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Officers from 13 forces will be on hand to maintain order at two protests in Leicestershire - the county's largest police operation in 25 years.

The English Defence League (EDL) is due to hold a demonstration in Leicester on Saturday, while Unite Against Fascism (UAF) will stage a counter-protest.

A large part of the city centre will be closed to traffic throughout the day.

The groups are banned from marching but will be escorted to Humberstone Gate East to hold static protests.

Temporary Deputy Chief Constable Gordon Fraser, who is in charge of the operation, said: "We're expecting a large number of protesters to travel from outside Leicestershire and this naturally presents a challenge: how we get them from their coaches and the bus and train stations to the protest sites, particularly when public processions have been banned by the home secretary.

Transport disruption

"Our role is to facilitate a peaceful protest on the day, to ensure that the groups involved can exercise their democratic right to free speech whilst causing as little disruption as possible to those not involved, who want to go about their business as usual.

"You can therefore expect to see groups of protesters being walked to the demonstration sites in the company of police officers.

Image caption,
Street lights on Gallowtree Gate will glow green to highlight peace events across the city

"This isn't police protection. It's a way of us ensuring that everyone gets where they need to be without fear of provocation or disruption."

Road closures, staffed by police officers, will be in place from 0900 BST to 1800 BST, mainly across the eastern part of the city.

The affected area is bordered by Belgrave Gate to the north and Granby Street to the south, extending as far east as the inner ring road, though the ring road itself will remain open.

Some bus routes will also be disrupted, so temporary stops are being set up in Belgrave Gate and Abbey Street.

A map showing details of road closures and other public information is available on the council's website.

A series of "green-themed peace events", including a performance by musician Billy Bragg, are being held in Leicester on Friday and Sunday.

Some street lights will glow green, and the city council is urging people to wear green ribbons and attend the peace events as an alternative to taking part in any demonstrations.

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