Police officers say arrests will be made after violence broke out at a campaign rally for the British far-right activist and founder of the English Defence League, Tommy Robinson.
The clashes occurred Saturday afternoon at a campaign event in Oldham, Greater Manchester, and left two police vehicles damaged, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) confirmed in a statement.
Footage of the event posted on social media shows supporters of Robinson – whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – clashing with counter-demonstrators.
Police reported that the clashes turned violent and objects including eggs and bricks were thrown. They added that many of the individuals involved in the clashes were not thought to be from Oldham.
“Everyone has the right to free speech and we will always do our best to facilitate this so people can exercise this right in a safe environment,” Chief Superintendent Neil Evans said in a statement.
“This evening, people took advantage of this and turned to violence, throwing objects including eggs and bricks.”
Evans noted that officers responded quickly to the disturbance, bringing it to a close without any reported injuries. “Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt and damage was only caused to vehicles,” he said.
He added that those involved in the incident can expect to be arrested and dealt with “robustly.” “Whoever is responsible, this behavior will not be tolerated by GMP, our partners or the people of Oldham,” he said.
Jim McMahon, a local politician from the opposition Labour Party, expressed his sadness over the incident.
“It’s horrible to see our town being used for hate and division when our own future is a shared one, long after the circus has left town,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Very different from our own stall in Oldham earlier today where we celebrated our town.”
Police appealed for more information regarding the incident, and called on anyone with footage of the clashes to contact officers directly.
The force also stated that officers will remain in the area for some time in order to provide “reassurance” and to “deal with any further concerns.”
Robinson was appearing in Oldham to campaign ahead of the European elections on Thursday, in which he is running to become a member of the European Parliament for the North West region.
Andy Burnham, the Labour mayor of Manchester, said he understood why people in Greater Manchester are “frustrated with politics,” but warned against voting for Robinson.
“We don’t make our politics better, and bring the north west back together, by giving any legitimacy to people with extreme, divisive views,” he told The Independent.
“We urge people to reject the politics of Tommy Robinson. The fact that he has no connection with the north west but has sought out our region as a platform for his views exposes him as an opportunist.
“This man incites division, trouble and hate wherever he goes. He is not fit to represent the northwest of England.”