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Violence at Whitechapel Protest

Some of the police on duty in Whitechapel on Sunday. Photo: Discarded Production Unit @ flickr

A demonstration in Whitechapel on Sunday, described as: “united and peaceful” by an EastLondonLines reader, was marred by later scuffles and an arrest, when a crowd of young people attacked police and a member of the public in Whitechapel on Sunday afternoon.

A 19-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of actual bodily harm.

According to the police, the ‘very volatile’ group of young men, numbering up to 300, had assembled outside the East London Mosque in response to rumours of a rally by the controversial right-wing group the English Defence League.

Despite no EDL presence, the protesters became agitated and ‘surged up and down’ the Whitechapel Road. According to the police statement, there were ‘concerted efforts by the crowd to attack people at random.’

Police officers themselves were also attacked by the crowd ‘at points throughout the afternoon.’

Stewards and representatives of the mosque attempted to control the situation, police said, making ‘continued excellent attempts’ to pacify the crowd and even risking their own safety, but were unsuccessful.

In response to the ‘risk of serious disorder,’ and in order to prevent injuries to officers and bystanders, police isolated the area with a series of ‘filter cordons,’ which remained in place for around two hours.

An earlier anti-EDL rally in the area, held by Unite Against Fascism, was conducted peacefully. Police estimate participant numbers at around 1,500. Demonstrators suggest that the number was closer to 5000.

A UAF spokesperson said: “I heard there were a few nasty scuffles between local youths and police, but certainly the demo was very positive and a really good vibe.”

A passer-by commented on the ELL website: “Shame that the demonstrators/kids on Sunday attacked and intimidated pretty much any white person walking along Whitechapel Road (including smashing the windscreens of a white van with three white guys in). Even those three guys weren’t racist before – they probably are now.”

Did you attend the demonstration? If you have any information about Sunday’s events, you can comment below.

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9 Responses to Violence at Whitechapel Protest

  1. Danny T

    June 23, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    Way to go East London Line. 5000 Tower Hamlets locals come together to unite against racism and fascism and you focus on the unsubstantiated claims of the police and an anonymous “witness”. Great community journalism. Not.
    Couldn’t you find and interview just 1 person who was on the march? Or from the Mosque? Do you have ANY local contacts?
    Or is reprinting an edited quote from a UAF spokesman cut n pasted from another news outlet as far as you go in balancing your story? What makes this any different from any other cheap web news site, in that case?
    This piece makes serious allegations against local Muslims and anti-racism protesters – the local community – and considering you clearly didn’t have a reporter at the march (why not?!), you’d better find some evidence and witnesses to back them up. Otherwise all you have are the allegations of the police, who as anyone with any knowledge of the subject or local politics would know, are not neutral in this.

  2. Angela Phillips

    June 23, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    Hi Danny
    Thank you for commenting. We should have had someone there but as a community web site we have periods in between editorial groups when we are a bit short of reporters and we absolutely depend on people like you to write in. Please keep it up. What we need is a debate on this issue which is why we asked people to get in touch. There are many different communities living in the area and they don’t all have the same opinion on this so lets hear more from them.

  3. Sarah Creagh

    June 23, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    I was at the demonstration and although people were, quite rightly, angry at the threat of the racist EDL attacking our neighbourhood, the demo was united and peaceful. The police were intent on whipping up divisions telling white people not to walk up whitechapel road but as we walked past the mosque it was more like a street party than anything else. Great atmosphere, great day, Tower Hamlets was united against the racist EDL who have caused violence where they have demonstrated before and who should be criticised in this article, not the local youth.

  4. Danny T

    June 24, 2010 at 12:13 am

    Angela. Perhaps if you didnt have a reporter on the march then you shouldnt be reporting these allegations and lies and regurgitating Met propaganda. I wouldnt of been hard to contact United East End who organised the march.
    There is 1, united community in the East End. All sections of the community were represented on the march, black, white, Muslim, Jew, Christian, young and old, socialist and anarchist and everyone else. This report doesnt represent this at all. Did you contact the Met to find out whether anyone was actually attacked by anti racist protesters? No you just repeat Met lies and smears.

  5. Neil Roberts

    June 25, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    Here’s a report and video by a journalist who was at the protest. The video clearly supports the reports from protesters that police attacked young Asian youths outside the Mosque. Perhaps we could post the video on ELL for a bit of balance from a journalist who was there; a bit more reliable than anonymous comments, too.

  6. Adrian

    July 10, 2010 at 11:12 pm

    The truth is the UAF are a bunch of thugs doing the dirty work for the SWP. I have seen their violence and hatred on the streets. Its understandable when you see the UAF are run by SWP secretary Martin Smith and SWP commitee member Weyman Bennett. Both where arrest in Bolton this year. Altogether 31 members of the UAF where arrested and just two from the EDL. The UAF cause most of the trouble.

  7. Angela Phillips

    July 17, 2010 at 9:53 am

    We don’t want to turn this into a slanging match so lets leave it here. We are grateful to those of you who were at the demonstration and contacted us with comments. ELL needs your involvement – specially over the summer when our student reporters are busy elsewhere. Please keep in touch.

  8. discarded production unit

    August 14, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    As this article has been illustrated using my photograph, I’d like to add that underneath this photo which I posted up on Flickr, I added a link to the Whitechapel Anarchist website which I think was an accurate and fair assessment of what happened on the day. Here’s the link – http://whitechapelanarchistgroup.wordpress.com/2010/06/21/whitechapel-united-against-division-reflections-on-the-anti-edl-mobilisations-on-sunday/

    In response to the comment made in the last paragraph of the article, I’m white, I was out on the streets all day with Whitechapel United handing out leaflets and I didn’t feel intimidated during any part of the day apart from when the police made a baton charge!

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