Glasgow & West Scotland

Hundreds attend anti-racism rally in Glasgow

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Media captionAnti-racism rally held despite 'stay away' warning

Hundreds of people staged an anti-racism rally in Glasgow city centre despite appeals to stay away due to the lockdown restrictions.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf, the city council and Police Scotland had called on the public not to gather for the Say No To Racism demonstration.

There was a heavy police presence in the square following violent scenes from a far-right group on Wednesday.

Officers later confirmed one man was arrested in the nearby Gallowgate area.

A police spokesman said the 42-year-old allegedly obstructed officers.

A second man, aged 62, was arrested in Edinburgh for threatening and abusive behaviour.

That arrest is believed to be in connection with a separate protest in the capital.

Image copyright Graham Stewart
Image caption Many protesters wore masks to attend the event
Image caption Police surround members of the Green Brigade

At about midday a group of protesters from the Green Brigade - a group of ultras who follow Celtic football club - were hemmed in by police in the centre of Glasgow's George Square.

Anti-racism activists outside the cordon chanted: "Let them go."

Ch Supt Alan Murray, said: "We identified a group as football risk supporters, who we believed posed a threat to public safety.

"We spoke with this group and, at their request, escorted them to the Gallowgate area of the city where they dispersed."

Loyalists and members of a far-right group announced online on Friday night that they planned to head to the square to "protect statues".

A small group gathered at the war memorial during the rally as lines of riot police separated the two.

Image copyright Graham Stewart
Image caption Police officers separated the rally from a small group of loyalists who also gathered in George Square.

More than 500 people attended the rally, with stewards asking them to stick to social distancing guidelines by following markings on the square.

Supporters include Stand Up To Racism, Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees, Positive Action in Housing, Afghan Human Rights Foundation and unions.

They had also been asked to wear masks and not to travel farther than public health advice allows.At the start of the rally, the crowd took a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Later, names of people who died in police custody were read out and attendees chanted "no justice, no peace, no racist police".

Speakers said they "didn't come here for a fight" and spoke of securing greater rights for refugees and asylum seekers.They added "no-one welcomes" the far-right group and called on police to "do their job".

There were some minor scuffles as police controlled people arriving and leaving but the rally was peaceful.

Image copyright Graham Stewart
Image caption A number of speakers addressed the anti-racism rally

Chief Supt Murray said: "Significant police resources were deployed at George Square to prevent the disgraceful scenes of violence and disorder witnessed in recent days.

"Those who turned up to protest were facilitated with an appropriate policing response and I would like to thank all officers involved for their professionalism in preventing trouble and maintaining public safety."

"Our robust response will continue across the country and anyone intent on causing violence and disorder should expect arrest."

Charlotte Ahmed, of Stand Up to Racism, Scotland said: "Today's demonstration was a magnificent expression of the unity, the anti-racism and the anti-fascism of the people of Glasgow.

"Here, in George Square, the very place where thousands of us welcomed Nelson Mandela to Scotland, we have made it clear: refugees are welcome here, Black Lives Matter, no racists in Glasgow."

Image copyright Graham Stewart
Image caption Police arrived at George Square early on Saturday

Elsewhere, a protest was held at the statue of Henry Dundas, who delayed the abolition of the slave trade, at St Andrew Square, Edinburgh.

And the Loyalist Defence League staged a "protect the statues" demonstration at the Paisley War Memorial.

On Friday, Ch Supt Hazel Hendren, divisional commander, said: "Please do not come to George Square."

She said: "The lockdown restrictions remain in place and people should leave their homes only for very limited purposes.

"Anyone who wants to protest should find another way of doing so that keeps everyone safe."

At least six people were arrested on Wednesday following scenes labelled "disgraceful" by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Far-right loyalists targeted a rally in the city's George Square which was calling for improved living conditions for refugees.

The organisers vowed the rally would "send a positive anti-racist message from Glasgow's George Square to the world".

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