SEVEN people were arrested at the weekend when thugs from the English Defence League (EDL) descended on Rotherham.
The demonstration was the 12th far-right protest targeting the South Yorkshire town in the last two years.
But with only about 70 EDL protesters taking part, Saturday’s demonstration was a far cry from 2014 when 1,000 rightwingers turned up in Rotherham attempting to divide the community over child-grooming and sexual-exploitation issues.
The EDL were heavily outnumbered by 400 police drafted in from 15 forces. The demonstration brought the cost of policing far-right demonstrations in Rotherham in the last two years to £4 million from public funds.
A review of the cost of policing far-right demonstrations in Rotherham said: “The protests of recent years have levied a considerable cost — on traders, on relations in the wider community of Rotherham, and on the police,” and local traders have complained about the loss of business due to the repeated far-right targeting of the town.
A counterdemonstration by Unite Against Fascism brought supporters from Rotherham, Chesterfield and Sheffield together. They were contained by police using metal barriers.
The fascists first got tanked up in a local pub, the Bridge Inn, before staging their rally. Racist abuse was shouted at two Asian men who walked past.
The arrests of EDL supporters were made as the fascists arrived at Rotherham railway station to leave the town and scuffles broke out.
A spokesman for Unite Against Fascism said: “The EDL come to Rotherham to try and spread hatred, division, racism and Islamophobia.”
Hundreds of anti-fascist protesters also dwarfed the fascist National Front’s “white pride” rally in Swansea on Saturday.