Are Tensions Cooling At Sunderland’s Millfield Mosque Protests?
A fourth protest at the site of a new mosque in Sunderland ended with no violence and with only two arrests.
Around 40 officers policed the demonstration on St Mark’s Road in Millfield.
Between 50 and 60 protesters gathered and one man was arrested on suspicion breach of the peace and another on suspicion of racial chanting.
Police say organisers from newly-formed far-right group the Northern Patriotic Front assured them there would be no trouble.
The group was founded in August 2012 and made up most of the right-wing presence at the latest demonstration.
A counter-protest was also held by anti-fascist groups and members of the Muslim community.
A previous clash in October attracted around 200 people and saw missiles and firecrackers thrown at officers.
A total of 13 people were arrested as a result of the violence and far-right supporter Gary Donaldson, 32, from Seaham was later fined for shouting abuse at police.
Eight men arrested on suspicion of public order offences and another three arrested on suspicion of affray are still on bail pending further enquires.
Chief Superintendent Kay Blyth, Sunderland area commander, said: “We know the protests are causing concern to the local community and would like to thank residents for their cooperation and understanding.
“Our priority is to ensure public safety and extra officers were in the area to ensure the safety of everyone and that disruption was kept to a minimum.
“We will continue to carry out regular patrols in Millfield and would urge the community to continue to engage and work with police.”
Planning permission for the new mosque, for use by Pakistani Muslims, was granted in August after more than 1,000 objections were received by Sunderland City Council.
A former transport depot will be converted to include 20 parking spaces, an extra floor and two minarets.
The mosque will be used by around 150 Muslims on Fridays which is the busiest prayer day, but fewer people will visit it during the week.