Unions across the region are joining forces in protest against the controversial anti-Islamic demonstration set to take place in Newcastle next week.
German right wing group Pediga plans to hold a demonstration on Saturday in the city’s Bigg Market.
But opposition Newcastle Unites plans a counter march beginning at Gallowgate and heading to Newgate Street.
Comedian and activist Russell Brand and Respect MP George Galloway have pledged their support to the anti-facist group.
Dozens of groups from across the region are backing Newcastle Unites, and organisers are now asking all unions across the country to strengthen their cause.
Newcastle councillor Dipu Ahad said:
“I urge all the unions in the country, to unite and support Newcastle Unites Against Pegida.
“I urge you all, who want to see a better future for our children, where we can coexist in peace, no matter what our race or religion. Let us start today, and not tomorrow as each and everyone of us has got a responsibility as humans.
“Our unity is our strength, and together we can eradicate all types of hate, no matter what.
“Too many times we focus on what divides us, which diverts the real issues. We’ve got a responsibility to combat evil, so I urge you all to stand up and be counted.”
The councillor said many groups had come forward voluntarily to support Newcastle Unites.
Just days ago Pegida were told by Newcastle United fans: “We’re black and white”.
The demonstration is planned for the same day as Newcastle face Aston Villa at St James Park, and NUFC Fans United put out the defiant message on their website which reads:
“There is a fear that Newcastle United supporters who are of the Islamic faith or origin may be singled out for abuse by this group and we say that the authorities cannot allow any of our community, whatever their race, creed or religious belief to be treated in such a manner in our city on match day or any other day.
“As Supporters of Newcastle United we are asking what kind of message is such a rally sending to players such as Papiss Cissé, Mehdi Abeid, Cheik Tiote and Moussa Sissoko as well as to our wider Muslim community? Remember, we are black and white; we are UNITED.”
A heavier-than usual police presence is expected on the day of the two marches.
Newcastle Chief Supt Laura Young said:
“We have met with representatives from both of the organisations and have agreed on plans for their demonstrations.
“The organisers from both groups have assured us they do not want any trouble and their intention is to hold peaceful protests before moving on and we will act in a neutral capacity to facilitate this.
“People often ask why we can’t ban protests. Police forces do not have the power to ban a protest or the right to peaceful assembly. This is a fundamental democratic right and is laid down in the European Convention of Human Rights.
“On occasions we can insist on certain conditions being applied to ensure we preserve public safety, prevent crime, serious disorder and serious damage and protect the rights of others.
“Our priority is ensuring public safety and minimum disruption to the local community.”
Newcastle Unites against Pegida supporters so far are:
• The Durham General Branch of the GMB
• Northern Cultural Projects CIC
• The Durham Miners Association
• The County Durham Trades Council
• Northumberland County Unison
• The Newcastle Hindu Temple
• Islamic Diversity Centre(IDC)
• Spice FM
• Show Racism The Red Card
• Durham UAF
• County Durham Unites Against Racism
• Newcastle Council of Faiths
• North East People’s Assembly
• Newcastle Stop The War Coalition
• Northumberland County Unison
• UAF North East
• Sunderland Anti-Fascist Coalition
• West End Housing Co-operative in Newcastle
• Unite Against Fascism
• Stand up to UKIP
• Newcastle Council for Voluntary Service(NCVS)
• Jude Kirton Darling MEP
• Julie Ward MEP
• Lord Beecham
• Comedian and activist Russell Brand
• Journalist and activist Yvonne Ridley
• Dave Anderson MP
• Chi Onwurah MP
• Davy Hopper (General Secretary of Durham Miners Association)
• Palestine Solidarity Campaign Fife
• Sunderland Together
• NUFC Fans United
• PCS Northern
• Bakers Union
• Tyneside Irish Centre
• Unite The Union
• Gateshead Unison
• Unison Northern Region
• TUC Northern Regional
• Newcastle Central Constituency Labour Party
• North East Greens
• Tyneside SWP
Source – Sunday Sun, 22 Feb 2015
Protesters have been warned anti-social or criminal behaviour at marches planned this weekend will be dealt with by police.
Almost 350 EDL supporters have said they will march through the streets of Middlesbrough on Saturday afternoon with more considering it.
There have been concerns they may try to march through some of the town’s ethnic minority areas, finishing at the war memorial on Linthorpe Road.
Counter demonstrations are also being planned by groups opposed to the EDL.
Now Cleveland Police has said while groups have the right to stage a peaceful protest, action would be taken if necessary.
A spokesman said officers had been working to ensure the event passed peacefully.
He urged marchers: “Please enjoy a peaceful event, respect the town and respect those who are going about their daily business.”
Marchers were warned banners, flags and placards that might incite disorder would be banned along with anything that could be used to cause injury or damage.
Face coverings, masks and scarves if used to conceal someone’s identity are also banned and the distribution of leaflets in Middlesbrough town centre is prohibited.
The last demonstration by the EDL which went through Middlesbrough town centre in 2011 passed off peacefully despite it being on the same day as a United Against Fascism march.
The police spokesman added: “We aim to use a proportionate number of police officers to ensure your protest remains peaceful and safe. We will however respond to any outbreaks of disorder.
“Middlesbrough is a town of peace – with your help and co-operation we can keep it that way.”
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 26 June 2014
The English Defence League is to march through Newcastle’s West End, despite objections from police.
Northumbria Police’s Chief Constable Sue Sim fears tomorrow’s demonstration will cause distress to residents.
> Well, yes… that’s their whole intention, isn’t it ? That’s why they’re not marching through Gosforth or Jesmond.
However, the far-right group has refused to compromise with the force and change its route so tomorrow’s march will go ahead.
Chief Cons Sim said: “Northumbria Police has been speaking to organisers from the English Defence League for a number of weeks following their announcement that they want to hold a march in Newcastle on Saturday, May 17.
“The EDL expressed an intention to march in the West End of the city through a highly populated, residential area. We have made our position clear that we do not support this as the impact on the local community is too great. It poses a risk to public safety, will cause people fear in their own homes and create significant disruption as people try to go about their daily lives.
“Northumbria Police has always tried to facilitate peaceful protest and has worked with the EDL in the past to agree suitable routes for them to march and protest. We also regularly work with other groups with a range of opposing views to agree routes for marches and protest locations.
“Regrettably, this time EDL organisers have not been prepared to compromise on an alternative route, although we would remind them we are still prepared to discuss alternatives.
“Those planning to attend should be aware there has been no agreement with police with regards to meeting points or route locations.”
Protest group Newcastle Unites has also spoken to police about marching through the West End tomorrow.
And after discussions the route of this demonstration was altered.
Mrs Sim has vowed that officers will be out on the streets to ensure all protests pass peacefully and that residents’ safety will be a priority.
She added: “We have an excellent history of harmonious relations between all our communities and the public should rest assured that their safety remains our priority. We will not allow anything to disrupt their way of life or any marches to take place in residential areas.
“Our neighbourhood officers, known to local communities, together with other officers will be out and about in the run up to and throughout Saturday to reassure local people and answer any questions they may have.
“We have also been working with representatives of the local community and partners in the run up to the weekend.
“We do expect Saturday to be extremely busy in Newcastle but it will be ‘business as usual’. There are a number of events going on in the city centre and surrounding areas but there is no need for anyone to change their plans or avoid the city.”
Northumbria Police’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird is now appealing to the EDL to get in touch.
She said: “The Chief Constable has made an operational decision that no march or demonstration should be allowed in the west end of Newcastle on March 17, and, although I do not make operational decisions, as the Police and Crime Commissioner I agree and support her wholeheartedly.
“Few people would wish to have their communities disrupted in that way, including probably those who want to protest.
“In previous demonstrations, protests and marches by the English Defence League (EDL), they have accepted the request to discuss the route and the details with Northumbria Police, who have a good history of protecting the right to protest whilst ensuring that people who are not involved are not seriously inconvenienced.
“It is disappointing that the EDL have refused to give details of their plans to the police.
“I would appeal to them to make contact now and agree reasonable arrangements as usual.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 16 May 2014