Bottles, fireworks and smoke bombs were set off as 1,500 officers tried to contain thousands of English Defence League supporters holding a protest march in Luton today.
The town centre was flooded with police as tensions mounted that organisation's members might clash with a counter demonstration by a 1,000-strong group from Unite Against Fascism at the same time in the usually busy shopping area.
Bedfordshire Police said the day of action had concluded peacefully,
‘It is disappointing that we saw disorder from members of Unite Against Fascism, who were part of the 'We Are Luton' march, who attempted to break out of the agreed protest route. This shows policing of these events is justified as there is such a large area to protect.
Police were on duty to make sure EDL demonstrators did not enter the Bury Park area of Luton, where most of the town's 30,000 Muslim population live.
They also were there to prevent any Muslims attacking the EDL.
The EDL has held demonstrations across the country since it was formed in Luton in March 2009 as a response to Muslim radicals, who disrupted a home-coming parade by the Royal Anglian Regiment
In practice, the UAF participation has routinely been a source of violence, but the police has learned how to deal with the counterdemonstrations, and in particular with splinter groups aiming to beat up the supposed 'fascists' they are marching against. Here is one example of the police cordoning off an UAF group aiming to, according to their banners, Smash the EDL & BNP.
police had the upper hand against the extremists.
Unite Against Fascist make no secret of their violent intentions. According to Twitter: