11 arrests amid rival city rallies

A controversial English Defence League (EDL) demonstration and a major opposition rally have been praised for passing peacefully despite 11 arrests.

Up to 300 far right campaigners marched through Bristol in protest at what it claims is the "islamification" of the city.

Two local EDL supporters had previously received death threats in the run up to the potentially violent public protest, but a determined police drive to ensure the rival rallies passed off peacefully appears to have been successful.

Avon and Somerset Police drafted in extra officers from as far afield as Yorkshire to swell the ranks of the riot control force to 1,000.

Isolated clashes took place between the police and EDL protesters as the rally wound down and supporters left the city. Missiles were thrown at one point and burning paper tossed into wheelie bins in a failed attempt to start a blaze.

Earlier, demonstrators walked through rain swept streets to Queen Square where EDL leaders made speeches to their supporters while at the same time up to 500 anti-EDL protesters with the We Are Bristol campaign marched in the city in an counter-demonstration.

Simultaneously hundreds more people were marching as part of this year's Bristol Pride celebrations.

Assistant Chief Constable Anthony Bangham said: "This has been a challenging day and I would like to thank the community for their patience and support. I have always maintained that the central shopping and tourist destinations should remain unaffected and I am pleased that the city centre has remained trouble-free.

"Despite the demands placed on our officers we have also been able to support Bristol Pride which I know is an important and well supported event in the city's calendar."

A police spokesman added: "This afternoon the English Defence League and We Are Bristol demonstrations took place around Queen Square and Castle Park. The majority of people taking part in the march were well behaved, in good spirits and caused no problems to the local community. There have been only eleven arrests for offences including going equipped to cause damage, assaulting a police officer and failing to leave an area when directed to do so by a police officer."