Far-right and anti-fascist groups clashed again yesterday in Westminster during protests sparked by the killing of Drummer Lee Rigby, leading to 58 arrests.
British National Party (BNP) members had gathered outside the Houses of Parliament for a demonstration but were confronted by protesters from Unite Against Fascism (UAF) and the Socialist Worker party. Scuffles broke out after UAF members refused to remain in their designated area and attempted to block the BNP from marching to the Cenotaph in Whitehall.
Lee Rigby's family appealed for calm earlier in the week, saying that he would not want people to use his name as an excuse to carry out attacks against others, a sentiment which both sides of the political protest spectrum could probably do with heeding. However objectionable we find the BNP, the last time we looked they were still a legitimate political party and we are still in a democracy.
The two Woolwich suspects, Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale have now been charged with Rigby's murder.
Nick Griffin, whose party was banned by police from protesting in Woolwich, turned up late — according to the Hope Not Hate blog after being held on Lambeth Bridge — is also said to have had overtures to his EDL comrades rebuffed by the many-monikered Stephen Yaxley-Lennon. In a statement to reporters, he said his supporters had come out to protest peacefully and to oppose any Islamic presence in Britain.
In slightly more heartening news, some Islamic centres have seized the opportunity to welcome local communities — following the excellent example set by a York mosque, Lewisham's offered pizza and samosas to visitors. Also at Westminster yesterday were 2000 animal welfare supporters protesting against a proposed cull of badgers. The unusual combination of protests gave us one of the best headlines we've ever come across, Far-Right Extremists Chased Through London By Women Dressed As Badgers. We did try to find other examples of protesters being pursued by people in animal costumes but we think this could be a first.
Photo by JudyGr in the Londonist Flickr pool.