Two held and smoke bombs hurled at police as English Defence League confront anti-fascist group | Manc Demo | Scoop.it

Two protesters were arrested today as smoke bombs were hurled at police during a rally by the far right English Defence League.

Hundreds of officers from Greater Manchester Police penned in the demonstrators as the left wing Unite Against Fascism held a counter demonstration.

A green smoke bomb and then a white one was thrown as police kept the groups apart at opposite ends of Albert Square in the city centre.

In the middle were officers with police dogs and they were joined later by riot police. Much of the city centre was shut to traffic for most of the day.

A couple who had planned to marry at the small register office in the square were caught up in the demonstrations and had to force their way through the crowds.

They had to contend with riot vans, dogs and EDL chants in the background of their nuptials. 

Groom Dave Taylor said: 'I think it was an absolute nightmare but I only found out about it yesterday. 
If we’d have found out any earlier I would have tried to cancel and move it to another day or to somewhere else.

'When I heard about it I was shocked but it was just so much worse than I even expected it to be. 

'I’m just devastated, there were riot vans everywhere and we’re trying to take photos of our wedding, it’s just so upsetting.'

Chief Superintendent John O'Hare said: I understand that these events are emotive and polarise the views of individuals but we must respect everyone's right to a legal and peaceful protest.

'I want to make it clear to anyone who is coming with the sole intention of intimidating communities or inciting violence and racism, that we will take action against you.'

Speaking from the protest Councillor Pat Karney said: 'I think the police operation has been absolutely fantastic, it’s the best I’ve seen in Manchester.

'We had the horrible thugs from the EDL and people doing a counter demonstration but they’ve maintained peace in the city centre.

'The EDL had two priorities to bring their hate and evil to Manchester and then to disrupt the city centre.

'I saw the faces of the EDL when they came and they saw the compound that they were going into and they weren’t that happy and I think they’ll remember that kind of reception in Manchester. 

'They do mess around and play games with the police but overall I think Manchester has won in the sense that we’ve not allowed them to disrupt the city centre and also they’ve not been able to their normal antics which is fighting and feuding with everybody else.'

A tweet from Greater Manchester Police said: 'Great team effort from@gmpolice today.'