Around 80 members of the Scottish Defence League gathered at Regent Road and marched to St Andrew’s House, flanked by a large police presence to prevent disorder.
More than 300 people gathered for a counter demonstration by Unite Against Fascism (UAF), who marched from the Grassmarket to St Andrew’s House. The protests took place after the SDL won a last-minute appeal at Edinburgh Sheriff Court against an order banning its members from gathering in the city.
Members of the previous administration’s licensing sub-committee decided to ban the SDL from marching over public safety and disorder concerns.
However the appeal was upheld by Sheriff Kathrine Mackie, who said the committee had failed to explain why it had rejected assurances given by police, its own officers and the SDL when it issued the banning order.
At Saturday’s march, anti-fascist protesters attempted to delay bus-loads of SDL supporters – many of them from England – by staging a sit down protest, which led to scuffles with the police.
SDL regional organiser Graham Walker said: “We wanted to come here, have a march and cause as little disruption to the public as possible and that’s what we have done. The UAF tried to attack us again by staging a sit-down protest.”
Luke Henderson of the UAF said: “Our demonstration shows the streets belong to the anti-racists.”
No arrests were made, and the event passed off without any major incident.
Superintendent David Carradice, from Lothian and Borders Police, said: “Today’s police operation centred around minimising the risk of disorder and maintaining public safety, and I am pleased that both marches and rallies passed off without major incident.
“I would like to thank those police forces who provided support to the operation, as well as City of Edinburgh Council and our other key partners who provided assistance, both in the planning stages and today.
“Lastly, I would also like to thank members of the public for their patience and co-operation, particularly with regard to the temporary traffic restrictions that were put in place as a result of today’s activity.”
The extensive police operation involved officers from Lothian and Borders Police with support from British Transport Police, Strathclyde Police, Fife Constabulary, and Tayside Police.