UK Unity and Norwich Against Fascists protests face off in city centre
- Credit: Archant
Two protests, with very different views on immigration, faced off against each other in Norwich city centre.
Norwich was one of five cities, along with London, Coventry, Cardiff and Leeds, where UK Unity organised a 'Take Back Control' demonstration, protesting at the government's failure to curb mass immigration and to leave the EU entirely.
But a counter demonstration was organised by a group which wanted to send the message that Norwich is a welcoming city for immigrants.
The two groups protested just yards away from each other outside City Hall in Norwich for almost three hours on Saturday, November 10.
UK Unity, holding banners such as 'Drain The Swamp' and waving Union Flags, were considerably outnumbered by the Norwich Against Fascists group, who chanted: 'There are many, many more of us than you' and held placards saying 'No To Racism'.
UK Unity was set up in Scotland last year by David Clews as an anti-Scottish independence, but pro-Brexit group. He says it is a grassroots movement and denies accusations that its stance on mass immigration is racist.
One of the UK Unity protesters, who gave his name only as Paul, said his anger was directed at the government for failing to deliver on the mandate to which it was elected, including over Brexit.
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He said: 'I've got no issue with refugees. I'm not racist, I have got friends who are black. But the problem is allowing mass immigration.
'We're only a little island and the NHS is struggling, the schools are struggling and we didn't have these problems in the 1970s and 1980s.'
Norwich Against Fascists organised their own counter demonstration. They held banners in support of the Windrush generation and saying 'Refugees welcome here'.
Norfolk police had said, in advance of the protests, that they had been speaking to the organisers and had planned to provide a 'proportionate' police response to ensure the demonstrations were conducted peacefully.
Police formed a line across the middle of St Peter's Street as the two groups moved closer together. At one point they also escorted a protestor away from the scene.
The stand-off eventually started to wind down at just after 2pm, having started at 11.30am.
Following the protests, Norwich city councillor Karen Davis, who had taken part in the Norwich Against Fascists demonstration, said: 'Norwich has sent a message that we are a welcoming city for all.'