Hundreds of anti-racism protesters have marched through Batley as a rally was held to support a anti-Muslim For Britain candidate the the by-election.
Stand Up To Racism groups in Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield held the counter-demonstration to fight against growing support for the anti-Muslim For Britain founder Anne Marie Waters.
It came amid reports former leader of the English Defence League Tommy Robinson would be at a rally in the West Yorkshire town.
Waters is one of 16 candidates hoping to become the new BP of Batley and Spen in the by-election on July 1.
For Britain, which was denounced by Nigel Farage as ‘fascist’ and is made up of former British National Party (BNP) members, was expected to stage an anti-Muslim demonstration today, but its numbers dwindled compared to 400 anti-racism protesters.
The by-election will be held following the resignation of Tracy Brabin, who was elected Mayor of West Yorkshire.
Some 100 police officers were at the protest as surrounding forces were drafted in to ensure the rallies were peaceful.
A total of three arrests were made – two for public order offences and a man was also arrested for possession of an offensive weapon.
Officers were forced to stand between the two groups as a stand-off happened in front of Jo Cox House, the building named in memory of the murdered former Batley MP
A man was arrested by a group of police officers during the clash between an anti-Muslim rally and anti-racism demonstrators
This man appeared to laugh as he made it difficult for police officers to get his arms behind his back for handcuffs
As the man was brought to the ground his expression changed, with one woman trying to console him
A man is escorted into a police vehicle after he was arrested during a demonstration in Batley on Saturday
Police officers lined the main square as forces from outside the area were drafted in to help on Saturday
This demonstrator laughed as she held up a sign that read: ‘smash fascism and racism’ during the protest
Officers also assisted with two people who were believed to have suffered medical episodes.
Police vans were parked along Commercial Street and officers lined the centre of the town as the Stand Up To Racism march was met with hostility.
Demonstrators shouted ‘scum’ and ‘traitors’, as marchers retorted by calling the anti-Muslim protesters ‘Nazi scum’.
Officers were forced to stand between the two groups as a stand-off happened in front of Jo Cox House, the building named in memory of the murdered former Batley MP.
The Stand Up To Racism Kirklees speaker who organised the rally said: ‘I think today has been a massive victory for the anti-racist movement. Have a safe journey home everyone.’
It comes a day after Jo Cox’ sister, Labour candidate Kim Leadbeater, was shouted at in the street by an anti-LGBT and anti-Israel campaigner from Birmingham.
A video shared on
Before she walked away to her car and was repeatedly shouted at, she responded: ‘This is my community. Don’t come here and shout at me in the street. The Muslim community of Batley & Spen deserve better than this.’
The tweet showing the video, from online channel Byline TV, said Ms Leadbeater had been heckled by supporters of hard-Left former Labour MP George Galloway for ‘supporting LGBT rights’.
However, Mr Galloway, who is standing against Ms Leadbeater in the by-election, called the claim a ‘lie’ and said he had ‘never seen’ the man who shouted.
The sister of murdered MP Jo Cox was heckled and chased by Muslim protesters over her support for LGBT rights as she campaigned to become the next MP in her sister’s old Yorkshire seat
A man with England tattoed on his neck appeared to whistle as he joined the anti-Muslim rally in Batley today
Mounted police officers were on the scene in Batley today in case violence broke out at the counter-rallies
At the anti-racism rally protesters held up signs that read: ‘Oppose Tommy Robinson. Don’t let the racists divide us’
Police officers lined the street to ensure the Stand Up To Racism demonstration could pass safely on Saturday
Colourfully dressed anti-racism protesters held up flags and banners as they marched through Batley
Assistant Chief Constable Scott Bisset, who led the policing operation, said: ‘I would like to pass on my gratitude to the local residents and visitors of Batley, partner agencies as well as all officers and staff, for their conduct and co-operation during the demonstration this afternoon, which only caused minor disruption for a short time in the town centre.
‘We ensured we had appropriate resources including assistance from additional high visibility police officers, to minimise the disruption caused as much as possible.’
‘Our overall aim was to ensure that the demonstrations remained peaceful and was effectively managed, so that the wider public were able to go about their business unaffected.’
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