15 arrested and smoke bombs hurled at police as English Defence League confront anti-fascist groupNewlyweds caught up in demonstration as they get married in city squarePolice penned in opposing protesters on opposite sides of square
Daily Mail Reporter
17:14 GMT, 2 March 2013
22:07 GMT, 2 March 2013
Fifteen people were arrested today as smoke bombs were hurled at police during a rally by the far right English Defence League.
About 700 EDL demonstrators gathered in Albert Square,, Manchester, with about 350 people taking part in a counter protest.
Hundreds of officers from Greater Manchester Police penned in the demonstrators as the left wing Unite Against Fascism held a counter demonstration.
green smoke bomb and then a white one was thrown as police kept the
groups apart at opposite ends of Albert Square in the city centre.
Protesting: Hundreds of Engilsh Defence League demonstrators in Manchester this afternoon
Careful: An officer kicks away a smoke bomb hurled at officers during the EDL march
Alert: Green smoke billows from a smoke bomb hurled at officers from the Greater Manchester Police who penned in the protesters
In the middle were officers with police dogs and they were joined later by riot police. Much of the city centre was shut to traffic for most of the day.
A couple who had planned to marry at the small register office in the square were caught up in the demonstrations and had to force their way through the crowds.
They had to contend with riot vans, dogs and EDL chants in the background of their nuptials.
Groom Dave Taylor said: 'I think it was an absolute nightmare but I only found out about it yesterday.
If we’d have found out any earlier I would have tried to cancel and move it to another day or to somewhere else.
Hauled away: Police penned in the English Defence League and supporters of Unite Against Fascism at opposite ends of the square
They shall not pass: A line of police officers keep the EDL penned in Albert Square
'When I heard about it I was shocked but it was just so much worse than I even expected it to be.
'I’m just devastated, there were riot vans everywhere and we’re trying to take photos of our wedding, it’s just so upsetting.'
Chief Superintendent John O'Hare said: I understand that these events are emotive and polarise the views of individuals but we must respect everyone's right to a legal and peaceful protest.
'I want to make it clear to anyone who is coming with the sole intention of intimidating communities or inciting violence and racism, that we will take action against you.'
Speaking from the protest Councillor Pat Karney said: 'I think the police operation has been absolutely fantastic, it’s the best I’ve seen in Manchester.
Fighting back: The counter march in Albert Square by the left wing Unite Against Fascism
Masked: An EDL protester gives a victory sign during a protest in Christ's Pieces Park, Cambridge today
'We had the horrible thugs from the
EDL and people doing a counter demonstration but they’ve maintained
peace in the city centre.
'The EDL had two priorities to bring their hate and evil to Manchester and then to disrupt the city centre.
'I saw the faces of the EDL when they came and they saw the compound that they were going into and they weren’t that happy and I think they’ll remember that kind of reception in Manchester.
'They do mess around and play games with the police but overall I think Manchester has won in the sense that we’ve not allowed them to disrupt the city centre and also they’ve not been able to their normal antics which is fighting and feuding with everybody else.'
A tweet from Greater Manchester Police said: 'Great team effort [email protected] today.'