West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson has had his say ahead of Saturday’s planned protest by the EDL in Coventry.

West Midlands Police are currently working hard to ensure the demo passes safely.

Mr  Jamieson said: “Coventry is a modern diverse city where residents of all races and religions live together in harmony – it is always a shame to see groups from outside come in and disrupt that.

“However, every citizen has the right to peacefully protest and this demonstration upholds that. Hopefully, it will pass quickly and without incident.”

Chief Superintendent Danny Long, responsible for policing across Coventry, added: “We know that the English Defence League (EDL) wish to hold a static demonstration in the city centre on Saturday 21 May.

“There will also be a counter demonstration at the same time and we, together with our local authority partners, continue to work with all groups to ensure the safety of those living, working and visiting the city.

“As part of that work, we have also been speaking regularly to local shopkeepers, residents and community leaders to listen to their views on the proposed events and reassure them that we will be working hard to ensure the day is safe and secure for all those involved.

“As most people know by now, neither the police nor the council have any powers to ban a peaceful assembly or static peaceful protest. Peaceful protest is a sign of a healthy democracy and the force has an active duty to facilitate that right.”

EDL protesters are due to meet at the Litten Tree Pub car park in Warwick Road, Coventry at 12pm. At 1.30pm the protesters will walk to Speakers Corner, outside the council house where they will hold a static demonstration starting at 2pm.

Anti-fascists and other groups demonstrating at the EDL’s presence in the city will hold their simultaneous event on Broadgate on the city centre.

Chief Superintendent Long said: “The number of protesters has not been finalised but our well-rehearsed plans are flexible and we have the necessary available resources to manage any size turn-out.

“Throughout all our briefings with local traders, community members and residents we have shared information on the march and counter protests.”

There are no fixed road closures planned at this time, but there may be a series of spontaneous brief rolling road blocks to facilitate the safety of protesters during the short procession to the protest site.

People with concerns of questions about the operation should call police on 101 or a dedicated 24-hour hotline on 07824 820 937.

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