The English Defence League has confirmed it’s intention to march in Bristol on Saturday 14 July, the same day as the main Bristol Pride Day. This annual festival, part of Bristol Pride Week, has been in the city’s calendar for some time.
The Avon & Somerset Police website advises that “Public safety remains our top priority and we are working closely with Bristol City Council and our other partners in Bristol to ensure that Pride Day is as enjoyable and successful as usual, the EDL march is peaceful, and the impact on those who live, visit and work in Bristol is minimal.”
It continues “Our challenge is to balance the rights of the protesters to peaceful protest with the rights of the community and citizens of Bristol and our community contact team in Bristol is actively working with the people of the city to achieve this.”
Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Police Colin Port told the BBC: “The English Defence League will march and at the moment we are trying to make contact with the people who are going to protest against them. We’re going to open meetings because we don’t know what they’re going to do, but we want them to work with them.”
Mr Port said: “I can apply to have the march stopped but then what happens is that people can then pop up where ever they want.
“Frankly this is the best case scenario for us, we know what the march is and we are negotiating with the organisers. The main thing is people can demonstrate safely whatever side they are.”
EDL says that it only opposes Islamic extremism and is not a homophobic organisation.
The group has also said it has LGBT [lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender] members and recently issued a statement saying those involved in or supporting the Pride festival on 14 July have nothing to be concerned about.
It is believed that Avon & Somerset police are calling on extra resources from police forces across the country in order to help with policing the two events.