Police condemn violence during political rally in Oldham
Reporter: Jon Chubb
Date published: 20 May 2019
Rival demonstrators clashed in Limeside during a rally by Tommy Robinson
Greater Manchester Police have confirmed they are still investigating incidents surrounding a political rally in Oldham on Saturday afternoon which saw rival groups clash with bricks among other items being thrown.
It was during a speech by Tommy Robinson, who is standing in the North West in the upcoming European Elections, in Limeside when the two groups came together with several videos appearing on social media a short time later showing the scale of the violence.
During it bricks and eggs were thrown and two police vehicles were damaged.
Police have now defended allowing both rallies to go ahead but warned that they will not tolerate hate speech of any kind as they continue to look into what happened.
In a statement the force have said: “There have been a lot of messages and questions both in the community and on social media about why we allowed the event itself to take place.
“It’s really important to understand that people have the opportunity to exercise their right to protest and to counter-protest. This is in line with everyone’s right to free speech and we do not have any powers to stop this from happening. It is a fundamental human right.
“When we say free speech however, we certainly do not mean speech or actions that are full of hate. Hate will never, ever be tolerated, not only in Oldham, but in the whole of Greater Manchester and we will seek out those who think that this is acceptable and hold them to account.
“As part of our policing operation last night, officers engaged with a group intent on going to Limeside. In line with our duty to minimise disruption to the local area as much as possible, officers walked with the group and sought to reduce any problems on the route they took.
Following the incident there were reports that someone had been stabbed and gun shots were heard during the incident, police have dismissed those rumours, suggesting the gunshots could’ve been mistaken for fireworks being let off.
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