Mayor seeks powers to end far-right demos

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Aftermath of a flare. Pic by Leigh Kimmins © JMU Journalism

Aftermath of a flare. Pic by Leigh Kimmins © JMU Journalism

Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson has demanded new powers that would give him the authority to ban ‘far-right’ rallies in the city, following violent scenes outside St George’s Hall on Saturday.

Right wing group, the North West Infidels, clashed with anti-fascist campaigners on Lime Street, leaving one police officer seriously injured and leading to the arrests of 34 people.

Police reinforcements from Manchester had to be called in to help control the situation as missiles, including flares, fireworks and cobble stones were launched between the rival factions.

Merseyside Police has stated that it cost the taxpayer over £60,000 to deal with the disturbances on Saturday afternoon.

Mayor Anderson has since stated that he plans to petition Home Secretary Theresa May for new powers that would give him the ability to ban such contentious demonstrations in the future.

He said: “I am asking for a change in the law to give mayors the ability to stop these events taking place. This isn’t about banning free speech, but about banning people who incite racial hatred and Nazi views.

“These people have no place in this city. The Mayor and elected representatives should be able to stop such groups coming in. They are not here to air their views, but to cause violence and anti-social behaviour.”

Police forming ring around protesters. Pic by Leigh Kimmins © JMU Journalism

Police forming ring around protesters. Pic by Leigh Kimmins © JMU Journalism

The North West Infidels had stated its motives on its Facebook page prior to the event, saying how it planned to exercise “democratic rights to freedom of expression, speech, movement and assembly”.

Paul Jenkins, who is the North West Regional Organiser for Unite Against Fascism, and was part of the counter demonstration against the North West Infidels, said he felt that Mayor Anderson’s proposals could be effective, although legally complicated.

He told JMU Journalism: “Fascist groups like the North West Infidels stand in the tradition of Adolf Hitler. They are trying to use free speech and democracy, to destroy free speech and democracy for everybody else.

“We believe in the position of no platform for fascists. They shouldn’t be allowed to strut around, hold protests, marches and pass out anti-democratic literature, because what they want is a dictatorship, which would remove all free speech and democracy for all of us.”

Photo galleries by Leigh Kimmins. Click on a thumbnail to enlarge the images

North West Infidels demonstration in Liverpool. Pics by Leigh Kimmins © JMU Journalism2North West Infidels demonstration in Liverpool. Pics by Leigh Kimmins © JMU Journalism3North West Infidels demonstration in Liverpool. Pics by Leigh Kimmins © JMU Journalism

About Connor Lynch, JMU Journalism