Rain appears to have dampened spirits at today’s English Defence League protest in Rotherham – with barely 70 supporters turning out for the event.
The organisation is back in Rotherham for the 12th protest by far-right groups in less than two years, but today’s dwindling numbers were nothing like past protests.
Despite the low turn-out, EDL supporters were in high-spirits – waving England flags, anti-Muslim banners and chanting.
The demonstration, which came to an end at around 4pm, passed relatively peacefully.
There was a brief scuffle outside the train station and a few EDL supporters were arrested.
Unlike previous demonstrations the police – who outnumbered EDL supporters drastically – confined the event to Greasborough Road, near to the Bridge Inn, where EDL protestors had been drinking beforehand.
A counter demonstration was organised by Unite Against Fascism near to the Lidl, on Masborough Street, but even fewer supporters attended this demonstration.
Tempers flared in the EDL camp when two Asian men walked past – sparking angry chants from demonstrators of ‘our street, our street’.
A recent independent report ordered by Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Billings said there have been 11 protests in Rotherham since the publication of the Jay report, which revealed at least 1,400 children had been the victims of sexual exploitation, with the majority of offenders coming from the Pakistani community.
The ‘Police Protests in Rotherham’ review said ‘virtually all’ of the 20 protests across South Yorkshire since October 2012 have been organised by far-right groups.
It said: “The protests of recent years have levied a considerable cost – on traders, on relations in the wider community of Rotherham, and on the police (paid for out of public funds).”
The report said the cost of policing recent protests had reached £4 million, while traders in Rotherham town centre have suffered as a result of people staying away on days when marches have been taking place.