Anti-fascism demonstrators march in Portsmouth

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Jean Everitt from Friends of the Earth, Cllr Trevor Cartwright, Cllr Rob Humby, Cllr Graham Burgess, Jean MacGrory from Hampshire County Council with Callum Manson, Thomas Houghton and Skye Maccoll from Rowner Junior School. Picture: David George

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SCORES of anti-fascism protesters today staged a counter-demonstration against the English Defence League march in


They turned up in Commercial Road after Unite Against Fascism called a march up to the site of the proposed Madani Academy in Lake Road, Portsmouth, to counter the protest march against the development by the English Defence League.

UAF supporters gather in Lake Road

UAF supporters gather in Lake Road

Plans are underway to turn a disused site into a school which endorses Islamic teaching.

UAF supporters marched from Commercial Road and along Lake Road to the site of the proposed academy.

There, police directed them to an area of grass opposite to the point to which the EDL marchers were heading.

Michael Brooker, 36, arrived for the UAF demonstration wearing an army uniform, saying he wanted to highlight the fact the British Army welcomes people whatever their ethnic background.

He said: ‘I feel that it would have been the position Lee Rigby would have taken.

‘I am standing up for the fact our army is an ethnic mix.’

Tensions mounted as EDL protesters threw fireworks into the road, distressing members of the public who were walking nearby.

No-one in the UAF camp was arrested and there was no reported trouble.

Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson said it was disappointing things weren’t peaceful and said he would now talk to the police about how things could be handled next time.

‘Fireworks were being thrown down terraced streets in Fratton,’ he said.

‘I am going to have a talk with the police again.

‘A peaceful protest is one thing, but this is not.

‘There were police in riot gear.

‘It’s not been particularly peaceful.

‘The atmosphere was tense.’