Police in talks with EDL as hundreds of far-right activists plan to demonstrate in Middlesbrough (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Police in talks with EDL as hundreds of far-right activists plan to demonstrate in Middlesbrough
POLICE are in talks with far-right activists over plans for hundreds of marchers to take to the streets of Teesside at the end of the month.
Members of the English Defence League (EDL) from as far afield as London and Scotland are planning to gather in Middlesbrough on June 28.
About 250 EDL supporters have already confirmed they are attending on Facebook, with organisers saying full details of the demo will be released "at a later date".
It is understood they may try to march through some of Middlesbrough's ethnic minority areas, finishing at the war memorial.
Counter demonstrations are also being planned by groups opposed to the EDL.
This evening (Tuesday) Cleveland Police said an EDL representative had contacted the force, but stressed no firm plans had been put in place.
"Groups have a lawful right to gather or protest in a peaceful manner and Cleveland Police will plan for and try to facilitate such events," said Supt Mark Thornton. "We are aware that other groups have expressed their intention to gather and express their own views that day however, as yet, no representatives have come forward to give police a clear indication of their intentions for that day.
"Finally we are in contact with a number of community groups from across Middlesbrough to reassure them of our commitment to the day passing off peacefully, without incident, and with minimal disruption to residents of and visitors to Middlesbrough.
"I would stress that anyone coming to Cleveland with the intention of taking part in anti-social or criminal behaviour will be dealt with robustly."
While the EDL could not be contacted for comment, John Bloom, a spokesman for Teesside Solidarity Movement, said he wanted to ask the "real decent people" of Middlesbrough and Teesside to stand side by side in solidarity against the organisation.
"Let us show those who want to divide us by race and colour that we will have none of it," he said.
"Ours will not be an angry mob like theirs, but a celebration together of what is good about Teesside folk, standing together against the racism. We need to get out in numbers, sing, dance, march, ignore them and unify ourselves together.
"We are all colours and creeds together, just Boro folk trying to get along and make a life together.
"Middlesbrough is a town that was built by incomers, the Irish who built the docks, the Scots who came to work at the steelworks, the West Indians and Asians who came to work in our health service.
"On the 70th anniversary of the D Day Landings we were reminded of the price that we pay when we allow people to try to set us apart from each other by race and religion. Never again."
He said the details of the solidarity parade were being finalised and could be found on Facebook at BoroNo2EDL.
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