Rival protesters fought running battles in the street after a demonstration in the Midlands erupted in violence.
The English Defence League and Unite Against Fascism staged protests in Leicester yesterday, prompting the city’s largest policing operation in 25 years.
About 1,000 EDL members and 700 UAF supporters were estimated to have descended on the city by 2.30pm and were involved in hurling bricks, bottles, smoke bombs and fireworks at officers.
A total of 13 men were arrested, the majority for public order offences.
One policeman was taken to hospital after he suffered injuries and the windows of the International Arts Centre, in Humberstone Gate East, were smashed when rocks were hurled.
Police had tried to marshall the rival groups, who were penned in by metal barriers in Humberstone Gate East, but violent clashes broke out away from the demonstration between EDL supporters and members of the local black and Asian community.
The EDL supporters ran away from the pre-arranged protest site to a nearby main road where they confronted gangs of local youths. Sporadic fighting broke out between the two sides at 4pm while riot police sought to maintain control.
Five people had been arrested by 5pm – one on suspicion of drugs offences, two for possession of an offensive weapon and two for minor public order offences.
EDL members said they were demonstrating against what they say is radical Islam – but have been branded racist by rival UAF supporters. Many members of the right wing group carried placards bearing slogans such as “Sharia laws will destroy Britain and all our British values”.
There were fears that the protest could spread to other cities after the EDL was banned by Home Secretary Theresa May from marching through Leicester.
Officers were on standby in Coventry after EDL spokesman Tommy Robinson posted a video on Youtube, claiming that the group was planning to travel there after the Leicester protest.
Chief Inspector Mark Markham, from West Midlands Police, confirmed the protest did not continue in Coventry. He said police had followed coaches carrying EDL supporters along the M69, onto the M6 and passed the exits for Coventry.
Leicestershire Police said: “Officers dealt with minor disorder among the EDL supporters on Humberstone Gate East. A number of protesters were detained for possible public order offences.
“In line with the policing plan for the protests, further officers in protective clothing have been mobilised and are supporting the police already stationed in the protest area. The disturbance is within the EDL supporter group, not directed at the counter protesters.”
Last week Home Secretary Theresa May authorised a blanket ban on marches in Leicester, but the groups were still permitted to hold static demonstrations.
Previous EDL protests in Dudley and Stoke-on-Trent have ended in violence.