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On Saturday July 14 the English Defence League (EDL) will be holding a demonstration in Bristol. The demonstration will be held in Queen Square following a short march through nearby streets beforehand.
In recent weeks Avon and Somerset police officers have been liaising with organisers from EDL to facilitate the march and ensure it passes off safely. This includes negotiating a route, ensuring that they have enough stewards on duty and reminding them of their responsibilities to ensure those taking part are well behaved.
The indications are that counter-protests may be held by groups who oppose EDL and police officers are continuing to try and contact leaders within those groups to discuss their plans. We are appealing for any groups intending to protest to come forward so that we can talk to them about their plans.
A large police operation is in place to ensure that any disruption caused by the march and any counter-protests is minimal. Avon and Somerset Police are working in partnership with Bristol City Council and other local agencies to plan for the march. While public safety is the key focus there is also a shared determination that those people who live in, work in and visit Bristol are able to carry on their daily lives. The demonstration will take place in a small geographic area and the central shopping and tourist destinations will remain unaffected.
The march route begins at Redcliffe Wharf, goes across Redcliffe Bridge, along Welsh Back, Crow Lane and Queen Charlotte Street and finishes in Queen Square. The march is due to begin in the early afternoon.
The EDL demonstration takes place on the same day as the Bristol Pride celebrations. The EDL have stated they are not targeting the event and the two events and associated marches are taking place at separate locations.
The route has been agreed to ensure the EDL and Bristol Pride events do not impact on each other. Plans are in place to facilitate the EDL supporters arriving by coach, train and car to ensure they know where to go and to minimise the disruption on the wider city area.
Assistant Chief Constable Anthony Bangham, who is the overall commander for the policing operation, said: "Public safety is our top priority and we are working closely with our partners in Bristol, including the city council to ensure the EDL march is peaceful. We are seeking to minimise disruption to those who live, work and visit Bristol and we are committed to ensuring that the city is open for 'business as usual.'
"Our challenge is to balance the right to peacefully protest with the rights of the community and citizens of Bristol. We will facilitate peaceful protest but we will be active in tackling anyone who becomes involved in violence or disorder, whatever form it may take."
On the day of the EDL protest there will be an increased police presence in the area to ensure the event is a safe and peaceful one. You can stay informed on the day by following us on Twitter @ASPoliceLive or visiting www.avonandsomerset.police.uk
In the build up to the day we will be working directly with local residents and businesses as well as communities who may feel threatened by the march to offer reassurance, advice and the latest updates. Anyone who feels concerned about the march should contact their local neighbourhood policing team by calling 101.