AROUND 100 people took part in an English Defence League march through the streets of Hartlepool on Saturday before laying flowers in memory of Drummer Lee Rigby.
The crowd gathered at Lloyd’s bar in Church Square before setting off on a silent march along Stockton Street and then along York Road towards the war memorial in Victory Square.
The Hartlepool division of the EDL arranged the march following the killing of Drummer Rigby in Woolwich last month.
Members met at Lloyd’s bar in Church Street before walking down Stockton Street, along Park Road before heading to Victory Square via York Road.
Once at the war memorial, some of the marchers laid flowers and wreaths before Craig Owens, one of the organisers, addressed the crowd after asking people to observe a one minute’s silence.
Standing on the steps of the war memorial, he said: “On behalf of the EDL I am absolutely proud of everyone for turning out.
“This is the fight against Islam extremists to protect Hartlepool and our country.
“When the rest of the EDL see this turnout they will be absolutely delighted to see the strength and support behind them from the people of Hartlepool.”
While similar marches across the UK since the soldier’s murder have turned violent, the Hartlepool march passed without incident as a small police presence looked on.
Mr Owens, 28, a welder who lives in West View, told the Mail afterwards: “We had an absolutely brilliant turn out, it went absolutely fantastic.
“The amount of people who turned out exceeded what we were expecting.
“The main point was for us to show how we feel, it was a chance for us to pay tribute to Drummer Lee Rigby and all of the other service men and women who have lost their lives for our country.
“There was no bother at all, we weren’t expecting any problems.
“There was a few idiots driving past, beeping and shouting things at us but nobody took any notice, we all just focused on getting our point across, that our troops should not be brutally murdered like that.”