1 Jun 2013

Woolwich: right-wing demos pass peacefully

Protest marches by far right groups in the wake of the murder of Lee Rigby pass peacefully, with British National Party supporters marching in London outnumbered by opposition demonstrators.

Faith communities placed flowers arranged to spell the word Peace amongst the tributes left in memory of Drummer Rigby (Getty)

Demonstrations by the BNP and the English Defence League (EDL) amid increased tensions following the 25-year-old’s violent death took place as expected on Saturday.

But Police reports suggest that just 150 BNP supporters attended protests in central London, with 300 people demonstrating in opposition to the BNP under the banner of United Against Fascism.

Scotland Yard said that there had been 58 arrests of protesters taking part in the the United Against Facism demos for breach of Section 14 of the Public Order Act.

The BNP march and protests organised by the EDL outside the capital went ahead after the family of Lee Rigby stressed that he would not have wanted violent attacks to be carried out in his name, and urged protesters to remain peaceful.

The BNP’s march in Westminster was organised after its original plan for a demonstration in Woolwich, where Mr Rigby was murdered, was halted by police to prevent further igniting community tensions.

Labour leader Ed Miliband today joined celebrities and thousands of others in signing a letter to a newspaper in protest at far-right groups using the death of Drummer Rigby for their own agenda.

‘Conflict and war’

In the letter to the editor of the Daily Mirror, they wrote: “The EDL and Islamic extremists are more similar to each other than to us. They share a violent, hate-fuelled desire for conflict and war, and we will not let either group tear our country apart.

A community cannot be blamed for the actions of just two letter to the Daily Mirror

“We condemn the shameful rise in anti-Muslim violence since Drummer Rigby’s killing. The fair-minded majority of Britons understand that a community cannot be blamed for the actions of just two. We know that the EDL does not speak for all Britain, just as we know that Muslim extremists do not speak for all Muslims.”

The letter was signed by stars including Eddie Izzard, union bosses including TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady, politicians and leaders of Islamic, Jewish and Christian organisations.


The letter follows other attempts to ease the tensions including a cross-community event at Woolwich Mosque on Friday and faith communities placing flowers arranged to spell the word Peace amongst the tributes left in memory of Drummer Rigby near the scene of his killing.

One of Drummer Rigby’s suspected killers who was shot by police was released from hospital yesterday and taken into custody.

Michael Adebolajo, 28, had already been arrested on suspicion of Drummer Rigby’s murder, and yesterday was further arrested on suspicion of the attempted murder of a police officer.

Michael Adebowale, 22, has already been charged with murdering the young soldier and is due to appear at the Old Bailey on Monday.

Police also arrested two men aged 42 and 46 on suspicion of being involved in the illegal supply of guns. They were later released on bail.

An inquest was opened and adjourned into the father-of-one’s death at Southwark Coroner’s Court, where it emerged that he had been working at the Tower of London on the day he died.

The Queen also visited the barracks where he was based, and met soldiers and officers from his chain of command.