Today in parliament, Emma asked the Leader of the House what the Government is doing to stem the rise of racially charged marches in Britain.
Emma raised concerns in advance of a regional demonstration organised by the far right group, the English Defence League who plan to march in South Shields on Saturday.
The march has been organised against a backdrop of a rise in race hate crimes in the North East which rose by 48% following the Brexit vote in June, a pattern echoed throughout the country.
EDL last marched in Shields in 2013. Prior to that march, Emma worked closely with the local community and Police as well as Northumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner to inform and re-assure residents. As a result the march took place with minimal disturbance and seven people were arrested for minor public order offences. Emma is working closely with the Police and Northumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner in the run up to this weekend’s march.
Emma asked the House why, when the majority of constituents and community members work hard to challenge and reject extremism in all its forms, the process for banning racially motivated hate marches was often complex and arduous.
The Leader of the House said the Government had to strike a balance between the right of freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate with the risk of public disorder and that it was up to communities to speak out against their ‘bile and venom’
You can read Emma’s Question and the response from the Leader of the House here.
Speaking afterwards, Emma said,
I too understand the balance that needs to be struck between freedom of expression and the right to protest but EDL marches have been banned elsewhere and there needs to be some consistency. We know the majority of people coming to march in Shields are from outside of the area and when such marches are not wanted by the people of Shields, they should not be subjected to their racist ideology. Surely it is about time the government reviewed their policies and procedures in this area.
Shields is a peaceful town with a proud history of tolerance and respect for all members of our community. EDL’s message of division and hate is not one that resonates with or is welcome in our community.”