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Trouble at Stoke-on-Trent English Defence League rally

BBC News | Saturday, 23 January 2010 | Click here for original article

Fifteen people were arrested at an English Defence League (EDL) rally in Stoke-on-Trent after trouble broke out.

Four officers were injured and vehicles were damaged when EDL supporters broke through police cordons. Two of the officers needed hospital treatment.

About 1,500 EDL supporters were at the rally in Hanley to protest about Islamic extremism, police said.

Up to 300 members from the group Unite Against Fascism gathered on the other side of Hanley centre.

Multi-faith pledge

Supt Dave Mellor of Staffordshire Police said more than 600 officers had been deployed to the rally and disorder had been "sporadic".

One officer needed hospital treatment for an arm injury, another needed a facial injury to be examined by doctors. The two other injured officers returned to duty immediately.

BBC Midlands Today reporter Matt Cooke said said there had been few problems with the Unite Against Fascism demonstration.

He said there was trouble as the EDL crowd dispersed.

Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Sikh faith leaders signed a pledge against all forms of racism, ahead of the event on Saturday.

The Right Rev Gordon Mursell, the Church of England Bishop of Stafford, said after signing the pledge on Thursday: "We believe that real diversity actually helps create a vibrant and attractive city.

"The EDL and BNP think the opposite. That is why we oppose them."

Staffordshire Police said it had sufficient officers in place to deal with the demonstration and had learnt "valuable lessons" from other police forces around the country, who had dealt with similar protests.

Ninety people were arrested following clashes between EDL campaigners and anti-fascist supporters in Birmingham in September.

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