Police determined to identify those who hurled objects at Tommy Robinson event
Chief Superintendent Neil Evans said speculation was ‘unhelpful’, but urged anyone with footage to come forward.
Police are determined to identify people who hurled objects and abuse in a disturbance at a Tommy Robinson campaign event, a chief superintendent has said.
Two police vehicles were damaged during the disorder in Oldham, Greater Manchester, on Saturday afternoon.
Footage posted on social media showed clashes between supporters of the campaigner, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, and counter-demonstrators.
Greater Manchester Police said eggs and bricks had been thrown during the disorder, and those responsible for acting in “such a disgusting way” would be identified and brought in for questioning.
The force said no-one was seriously injured in the disturbance, and reports someone had been stabbed were false.
Chief Superintendent Neil Evans said speculation was “unhelpful”, but urged anyone with footage to come forward.
In a statement released on Sunday, he said: “For the small few who ruin this for everyone else, let me be clear; you can expect to be identified, investigated by us and brought in for questioning.
“Everyone should be able to exercise their right to free speech but when people hide behind this to hurl objects and abuse and act in such a disgusting way, there simply is no excuse.
“Since last night, we’ve been working alongside our partners and people in the community and will continue to do so over the coming days. I understand that people will still have concerns around this and while our investigation continues, officers will be patrolling the area so feel free to approach them with any concerns you may have.
“Speculation around what happened is proving unhelpful but if you do have footage or images that could help our investigation, please send them directly to us.
“No-one deserves this sort of thing to be happening in their home town and I’m determined to – with the support of our partners and you, the people of Oldham – bring those responsible to justice.”
Police Superintendent Danny Inglis said the sound of fireworks at the event may have been misinterpreted as gunshots, and added: “Those who believe it to be acceptable to throw fireworks can also expect to be investigated by the dedicated team of detectives who will be working on the case.”
He added: “Intelligence suggests that some of those travelled a significant distance to Oldham yesterday and came with their own agendas, not to support any protest. We will trace those responsible for the disturbance and use all available powers to do so.”
A live video posted on Facebook by a group calling itself the Muslim Defence League showed a group of Asian men standing and shouting at the other crowd across the police blockade, with some throwing objects and shouting “racist scum”.
A separate live video shared on YouTube by Danny Tommo, an associate of Robinson, appeared to show the clashes from the other perspective. In the clip, he claims bricks are being thrown at his group.
Robinson was due to make an appearance in Limeside on Saturday as he campaigns for the European elections, in which he is standing as a candidate for the North West.
On Sunday, he is expected to visit the Bootle and Huyton areas of Merseyside.
Voting in the election takes place on Thursday, while counting starts on May 26.
Jim McMahon, Labour MP for Oldham West and Royton, tweeted about seeing the town used for “hate and division”.
The shadow local government minister wrote: “It’s horrible to see our town being used for hate and division when our own future is a shared one, long after the circus has left town.”
Police have appealed for anyone with information about the disorder to contact them and urged people with footage or images to send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
At a later event in Huyton, anti-fascist demonstrators were kept a distance away from Robinson supporters on King George V playing fields.
Shouts of “shame on you” were heard from the demonstrators as Robinson addressed supporters on Coppice Crescent.
The former English Defence League leader told supporters he had “never ever voted” in his life before encouraging the crowd to vote for him in the European elections.
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