THE organisers of a gathering outside Barnsley Town Hall last Saturday have distanced themselves from the ‘violent’ and ‘racist’ protests across the country having faced a backlash on social media.

Following the Black Lives Matter protests the previous Sunday, people across the country held their own protests as fears grew of war memorials and statues being torn down.

A group of about 150 people turned up to the town hall on Saturday to protect the war memorial, but organisers insist they were ‘not there to cause to trouble’.

Kev Fisher, 62, of Worsbrough, organised the group after he felt protesters the week before were disrespecting the memorial.

He told the Chronicle: “Due to the march that was there the week before we felt it was necessary to go up the week after to protect the statue.

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“There were about 150 of us there and we were all social distancing - it was a peaceful protest and there was no trouble at all.

“There were no specific threats to tear the war memorial down but we didn’t want anyone defacing it because we knew people had been putting banners and stickers on it the week before which we found disrespectful.”

The national protests received backlash across social media, with people taking part branded ‘thugs’ and ‘racists’.

“I see what people are saying but I don’t listen to them, there’s no point in rising to it because we know we’re not racist,” added Kev.

“The reason we were there was to show respect for our fallen, there was no violence at all and the police were in presence and they were happy with what we were doing.

“We want to distance ourselves from those violent protests because that’s not what this was - it was peaceful.”

Lee Howson, 42, of Bridge Street in Honeywell, also attended the rally and feels the terms the group have been branded with are ‘an insult’ to people that fought for their country.

He said: “There were a lot of ex-servicemen that were in attendance so for people to call them a ‘Nazi’ is unjustified.

“It’s a big insult to those people whose main part of their life was to fight against and stop the Nazis - I know I’ve got nothing to do with a racial party.”