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Police horses attacked during March for England violence
Two police officers were injured and police horses attacked during yesterday's violent March for England and its counter-protest.
Protesters fought hand-to-hand battles with police as they blocked the course of the march through Brighton yesterday.
According to police figures, at least 400 anti-fascist counter-demonstrators prevented up to 140 March for England supporters from following their planned route yesterday.
The two injured officers, both male constables, received head injuries during tense scenes, with one being admitted to hospital for treatment before later being discharged.
Several police horses received superficial cuts and bruises when attacked by protestors.
The march started at Brighton Station and progressed along Queen's Road. It had been expected to continue past the clock Tower and go along the seafront before returning to Victoria Gardens.
But officers have confirmed to The Argus that the strength of opposition in Queen's Road meant they decided to divert the parade down Church Street.
Superintendent Steve Whitton, of Sussex Police, said afterwards: "A strong police presence was necessary in order to ensure that the event took place and the risk of disorder and injury was minimised.
"We had several hundred officers available, with support from surrounding forces including mounted officers, and our priority throughout was on public safety whilst at the same time enabling both the marchers and counter-protesters to express their views within the law."
He added: "Our priority throughout the day has been ensuring public safety whilst allowing peaceful protest, minimising disruption to the city, local communities and businesses, preventing crime and disorder and providing a safe and secure environment for the protesters and the surrounding community.
"However, we were concerned that there were some people at this event whose intention was not to peacefully protest. We were able to restrain these groups and individuals with a firm, robust but fair policing response, but this did require a major police presence at several points."
Marchers later complained that bottles of urine had been thrown at them, as well as plates of food from cafes and cans of drink.
They made unconfirmed claims that two children and a woman on the parade needed medical attention.
Matt Silva, a spokesman for March for England, said he was "completely appalled" at the level of violence directed at his members, saying women and children had missiles thrown at them. He said there was no provocation from any of the marchers who sang the national anthem because it was the Queen's birthday on Saturday.
But by the end of the day, only three arrests had been made after chaotic clashes in central Brighton.
Previous marches by the group, which claims to campaign for a bank holiday to mark St George's Day, has in the past ended with anti-Islamic chanting and the banners of the far-right English Defence League (EDL) being unfurled in the street.
A spokesman for Sussex Police said no EDL chanting or emblems had been seen.
Since 2010, the annual march has attracted a counter-demonstration by anti-fascist activists.
Last year, an estimated 100 counter-demonstrators had opposed 300 marchers.
More than 4,000 readers kept up to date with what was happening in the city centre on our liveblog yesterday, which can be replayed below.
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