Brighton police investigate March for England complaints
12:00pm Tuesday 24th April 2012 in News
Police are investigating complaints of heavy-handedness at Sunday’s March for England protest.
Caroline Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, is understood to have referred to Sussex Police her concerns about footage from the March For England counter-protest in Queen’s Road, Brighton.
A video posted on internet site YouTube showed a line of officers, and some on horseback, hitting unarmed protesters with batons to force them down the road.
But police have described the tactics as “professional and proportionate” and said officers were themselves facing violence.
Hecklers Anti-fascist counter-demonstrators lined the road on Sunday lunchtime to heckle the nationalist marchers, whom they accuse of far-right extremism.
The march, strung out along the road, was subjected to missiles including plates of food and drinks cans.
A ten-year-old girl taking part in the march was hit on the head but continued to take part.
The parade’s progress was repeatedly halted by demonstrators blocking the road.
Officers used batons and pepper-spray to clear them from its path.
Police eventually decided not to help the march pass the Clock Tower but to escort it into Church Street through Victoria Gardens. More clashes followed in North Laine
Former city councillor Jean Calder wrote to The Argus yesterday condemning the use of pepper spray on the counter-demonstrators.
She said: “Police are highly trained and well paid professionals.
“It is their job to uphold the law and deal with provocation without losing their temper.
“Other public servants, such as nurses and social workers have at times to deal with insults and physical abuse.
“Most do not resort to violence and neither should police.
“They should also be able to tell the difference between protesters who are law abiding and those who are not.”
Sussex Police confirmed it had received a complaint about the use of batons based on the YouTube clip, which has been circulated on social media website |Twitter.
Public safety Superintendent Steve Whitton said: “Our priority throughout the event was public safety and we acted to protect the march, the officers themselves and other members of the public.
“The brief and selective footage shows police officers acting in a professional and proportionate way when faced with hostile groups intent on stopping and attacking the march and the police officers.
“It has to be seen in the context of a complex four-hour operation in which police were regularly faced with aggressive and violent behaviour from a minority of the protesters, some of it even more violent than that shown in those brief clips.”