A MARCH organised by the English Defence League to lay a wreath at Portsmouth’s war memorial in Guildhall Square has passed off without incident, despite a counter-protest being held in the city.
The march was organised as part of a national commemoration by the EDL for Fusilier Lee Rigby, who was murdered in Woolwich more than a week ago.
Michael Adebowale, 22, appeared in court on Thursday charged with the murder. A second suspect, Michael Adebolajo, 28, remains in hospital and has not been charged.
Around a dozen members of the Patriots of Portsmouth organisation set off with the wreath from the Connaught Arms pub in Fratton, walking to Commercial Road before heading to the war memorial where they were met by other people who wanted to remember the fusilier.
Mickey Bayliss, 46, the EDL’s regional organiser for the South West, said: ‘We’re just here to pay our respects to Lee Rigby.
‘What I would like to say is that Portsmouth has a large Muslim community and a large Polish community and not everybody is the same. We’re against extremists.
‘78 cities and towns in this country have been doing this.’
The wreath was laid at around 1pm.
Meanwhile, the Unite Against Facism organisation launched a petition in Portsmouth against the EDL’s march.
Simon Magorian, UAF convenor for Portsmouth, said: ‘There have been a number of marches taking place by the EDL, hijacking the horrible, horrible murder of Lee Rigby.
‘They just want to exploit his memory and they’re just using this to promote their own organisation, both them and the BNP.’