Home Secretary Theresa May and the local council in Bradford have decided to ban an English Defence League demonstration planned for the August bank holiday weekend.
The Home Office told Operation Black Vote that it approved an Order made by Bradford City Council, saying that the protest planned by the far-right group should be stopped in the interests of public safety.
A letter from the Home Office to the chief executive of Bradford City Hall, dated 20 August, outlined that the Order made by the council was based on an application from the chief constable of West Yorkshire police and prohibits the “holding of public processions throughout the Bradford Metropolitan District” between Saturday 28 and Monday 30 August 2010.
Parliamentary under-secretary for crime prevention James Brokenshire highlighted the need to stamp out racism and extremism. He said:
“…having balanced rights to protest against the need to protect local communities from serious public disorder, I am content to support the operational judgement of West Yorkshire Police…
He continued: “…the Government fully understands local concerns that such a demonstration has the potential to spark public disorder and impact on community cohesion, particularly given the disturbances in Bradford in 2001.”
The letter goes on to highlight that at the time of the Bradford Riots in 2001, there was also a ban sought and granted, but it did not quell the clashes that took place – which had such a crippling, long-lasting effect on internal community tensions.
Subsequently, the ban does not apply to static, that is, a stationary assembly; therefore does not guarantee there will not be an EDL presence in Bradford during this time. There are no powers which give authority to stop that.
A spokesperson for the Home Office said:
“Having carefully balanced rights to protest against the need to ensure local communities and property are protected, the Home Secretary today gave her consent to a Bradford Council Order banning any marches in the city over the bank holiday weekend.”
The ban is definitely a victory in the battle for Bradford, local activists and organisers working to maintain a united anti-racist front – however, they can only wait to see whether the EDL will stoke the fires of an extinguished war.
By Davina Kirwan