TWO men have been arrested following a demonstration by the far-right English Defence League on the streets of Middlesbrough today (Saturday).
About 400 people travelled from as far afield as London and Scotland to take part in the march, and more than 300 police officers were involved in the operation to keep the streets safe.
Bottles were thrown and some fireworks set off but otherwise the march passed without major incident.
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A counter demonstration by the Teesside Solidarity Movement, with about 150 people involved, and music and drumming, took place this morning ahead of the EDL march at 2pm this afternoon.
The anti-EDL demonstration marched down Linthorpe Road and finished with speeches in the town centre.
EDL’s protest march started outside the Pig Iron pub on Corporation Road and went down Albert Road and Borough Road before speeches were made in front of the lake outside Teesside Combined Court Centre and the Bottle of Notes.
The march was temporarily halted due to a firework exploding.
One man was arrested in the morning on suspicion of possessing an offensive weapon, and another during the march on suspicion of assaulting a police officer. Both remained in custody this afternoon.
Acting Assistant Chief Constable Ciaron Irvine said: “The role of Cleveland Police today has been to facilitate a peaceful protest and fortunately this has been the case, although there have been two arrests.
“Clearly there has been some disruption in Middlesbrough town centre to allow these demonstrations to take place, and we are grateful to local residents and businesses for their co-operation.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger said: “I attended one of the briefings to police officers this morning and have been out around the town centre observing activities. The whole operation has been well planned and in consultation with our local communities and businesses.
“Clearly the priority for the police today has been to facilitate each demonstration while ensuring the safety of the public and I am pleased that the day has passed off peacefully.”