Hate mob’s terror reign

Reporter: Janice Barker
Date published: 13 September 2010

Bottles were thrown at police and eight thugs were arrested when far right English Defence League supporters ran riot through Oldham on Saturday.

Police were warned at 8.45am that EDL supporters were arriving as members gathered from noon in the town centre.

It was one of a number of so-called flash mob events over the weekend, according to the Unite Against Facism organisation which is monitoring the far-right group.

Trouble flared at about 1.15pm when bottles were thrown at a police car by a group of up to 50 EDL supporters at the Middleton Road junction with Broadway in Chadderton.

Four people were arrested for public order offences.

In total, there were about 120 EDL members in the town centre. A group of 60 laid a wreath at the War Memorial on Yorkshire Street. There were four further arrests for public order offences at different parts of the town centre.

Police say there were no reports of any injuries to officers or members of the public and no damage reported.

Unite Against Facism’s website carried news of the Oldham event and also said the EDL were in Leeds on Saturday were they attempted to disrupt campaigning by local Stop the War and Right to Work groups.

There are also reports of EDL supporters attempting to harass Muslims in Nuneaton on Sunday.

Unite Against Facism says: “These developments suggest that the EDL may be moving away from large set-piece rallies towards smaller, unannounced ‘flash mob’ style events.”

The Chronicle reported in September last year how EDL, branded as far-right fascists had formed in Oldham, set up by a football hooligans involved in the 2001 Oldham race riots and had 50 members.

EDL’s leaders claimed they are not racist, far-right or fascist, and condemned the BNP and said they organised only peaceful protests against Islamic extremists.

Father Phil Sumner, chairman of the Oldham Interfaith Forum, said: “It’s just sad. Perhaps we should have been expecting it because of Pastor Jones’ views in America (the minister who threatened to burn copies of the Koran), and the fact that Eid coincided with the 9/11 anniversary.

“It seems as though it was reasonably well contained.”