The family of murdered soldier Lee Rigby yesterday called for calm and urged people not to use his name to attack others.
They spoke out as one of his suspected killers Michael Adebolajo was discharged from hospital where he had been recovering after he was shot by police.
The 28-year-old had already been arrested on suspicion of Drummer Rigby’s murder, and today was further arrested on suspicion of the attempted murder of a police officer.
In a statement issued by the Ministry of Defence the family thanked the public for the “overwhelming support” they had received but urged people to show respect in “a peaceful manner”.
They said the 25-year-old’s death had had a devastating effect on them, but said they were amazed by the worldwide support they had received.
They spoke out as an inquest into the soldier’s death was opened and adjourned, during which it was revealed he had been working at the Tower of London on the day he died.
Their call came as Scotland Yard banned the British National Party from marching near the scene of Drummer Rigby’s killing in Woolwich amid fears of violent clashes with anti-fascist groups.
The Met refused the far right-wing party permission to hold a planned march tomorrow from Woolwich Barracks to the Lewisham Islamic Centre saying a rally must be held in Whitehall instead.
The statement from Drummer Rigby’s “wider family” including his wife and fiance said: “The loss of Lee has obviously had a devastating effect on us but in these sad times we would just like to say how grateful we are for the overwhelming support we have received from the general public, Army and the Police Service.
“The generosity, kindness and sympathy expressed by everyone we have come into contact with has been truly staggering and is giving us the strength to carry on. “
They had been “amazed by the messages of support we have received from all across the globe” and they were “deeply touched” after visiting the scene of the murder in Woolwich.
The statement said : “We all loved Lee deeply and we know that he loved us – we all miss him so much. He was a fun-loving, approachable young man with a smile that always managed to light up a room. We have heard so many stories about him from so many people and they have brought us great comfort.
“Lee loved life and he loved people. He had many friends from different walks of life – some with different religious beliefs and cultures. But this made no difference to Lee – he always treated others with the greatest of respect.”
It continued: “We are struggling to come to terms with his loss of and we are truly grateful for everybody’s support. We would like to emphasise that Lee would not want people to use his name as an excuse to carry out attacks against others. We would not wish any other families to go through this harrowing experience and appeal to everyone to keep calm and show their respect in a peaceful manner.”
The British National Party wanted to hold a march from Woolwich Barracks past the scene of Drummer Rigby’s murder to the Lewisham Islamic Centre.
A Met spokeswoman said they had intelligence of a serious risk of disorder and violence after a number of anti-fascist groups announced plans to hold counter demonstrations.
At first BNP leaders urged followers to meet in Woolwich as planned but today they said they would hold a rally at Whitehall.
But organisers of the far right party today threatened to defy the ban and police warnings that they face arrest if they try to protest near the site of the soldier’s death.
BNP leader Nick Griffin tweeted this morning : “We will defy anti-English Met. 1st step: Meet at permitted demo site. “
BNP spokesman Simon Darby said protesters might try to walk to Woolwich following the rally. “It is amazing that it is forbidden for an MEP to walk to one part of London,” he said.
Police said they took the rare decision to impose a ban on the location of the march under section 12 and 14 of the Public Order Act.
This allows a senior officer to place restrictions on a protest which, in this case, means the march must take place between Old Palace Yard and the Cenotaph in Whitehall between 1pm and 4pm.
Met Commander Simon Letchford said: ““Those communities have made it clear to us the impact that groups expressing extreme views has upon them. We have listened to those concerns following Lee Rigby’s murder, and we will keep working with all our communities.
”We know that when groups with conflicting views come together it can create tension and disorder. What we have had to carefully consider is how to balance the right to protest with the negative impact on our communities and potential violence and disorder that may have resulted from these protests going ahead as they were suggested.“
He added: “If you want to protest on Saturday we ask that you do so peacefully, no matter what your view. We will work with you to enable that protest to go ahead. What we will also do is fulfil our duty to prevent crime and keep peace on our streets.
“The support we have received so far from Londoners has been outstanding, I would urge people to continue to show restraint and calm. We must continue to be a city that stands together.”
He said the decision to apply the restrictions was taken based on community tensions, the latest intelligence and violence recent marches and protests held by similar groups such as last weekend’s during the BNP rally in Downing Street.
Attempts by the Met to change the location of the protest via negotiation were unsuccessful, he added.
Ian, Lyn, Rebecca, Jack, Sara, Chelsea, Courtney, Amy & our wider family would like to say:
The loss of Lee has obviously had a devastating effect on us but in these sad times we would just like to say how grateful we are for the overwhelming support we have received from the general public, Army and the Police Service. The generosity, kindness and sympathy expressed by everyone we have come into contact with has been truly staggering and is giving us the strength to carry on.
We have been amazed by the messages of support we have received from all across the globe. We were deeply touched after visiting Woolwich on Sunday and would like to thank those who were in attendance for giving us the time and space to pay our own tributes to our beloved Lee. We would also like to thank the media for their positive support and the way they have allowed us to grieve in peace for our Lee.
We all loved Lee deeply and we know that he loved us – we all miss him so much. He was a fun-loving, approachable.
I have been involved with the anti racist and fascist movement for over 28 years I have seen some come and go over the years. For my part I joined a trade union(UNISON) and became very active from a branch level then gradually became a officer and advised national committees and eventually branched out to become one of the director of a company which monitored race crimes until the funding seized. The company had a very good track record for cases against public, private and third sectors to hold them to account over racial harassment, and discrimination. The company was instrumental in helping influence the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry. For my part I’m very proud to see a Labour Government implemented McPherson Report into action which the Conservatives failed to action as Stephen Lawrence died by the hands of racist idiots under their watch.
In response to the recent arrest against the members of United Against Fascist Group(UAF), English Defense League(EDL), British National Party(BNP) as much as I respect and support all anti racist groups I have to say I’m not surprised of the outcome of the arrest. For many years of attending various on demonstrations I have seen the way how both sides react to each other. Somehow I feel that the way forward is not to raise to the bate of fascist groups but to challenge issues of what they say in a peaceful manner instead of taking reactionary action against the fascist as they love it when anti racist groups go on the offensive which the police interprets as away of breaking the law. The main reason why fascist group operate they know they are protected by the law they will shout and try to start scuffles then pull back then let the opposition to hit back at them. This the oldest trick in the book.
The anti racist and anti fascist groups need to come up with new ways to deal with those groups just the other day I met up with some former members of the anti racist and anti fascist members who strongly felt that they did not receive proper support the organizations that organized counter demonstrations instead they are left to fend for themselves and in most cases they had lost their jobs and family which is not worth it.
Nowadays when many of us who once were passionate in stopping fascist groups from causing trouble just support the anti racist movement from a distance by giving arms length support which is a shame as most ant racist groups has fell by the wayside owing to funding has ceased in some cases since the introduction of the Hate Crime Act. Funding has been allocated to Police Crime Commissioner for them to provide to third sectors which was once held by the Home Office. The other source of funding would be issued by the lottery funding which both have tightened up on their rules towards funding.
Since the recession we have witnessed an increase of hate crimes which there is suggested it is on the grounds of race, sexuality, religious believes, and disabilities in some parts of the country. This has unfortunately given credit to legitimize far right groups as they continue to spread their brain washing ideologies to people who believes that immigrants are coming over to take their jobs and housing which puts fear in their minds. The simple truth is this coalition can do more to stimulate the economy by investing more in jobs in both public and private sectors. Instead they continue with their mantra of the Big Society and we’re all in it together which does not bring food to the table and pay bills.
How amazing it is that immigration has been positive for this country it has built diversity and multiculturalism in communities and foods from across the world which we all can sample. So it’s not good enough for fascist and racist to claim immigration is the course of unemployment as they will still go to their local Chinese, Indian, West Indian, Iranian, Polish Romanian Greek, French, Spanish, German, Middle East, and Syrian restaurants and takeaways to have a meal with their friends and families so now who are the hypocrites and bigots now?
The usual arguments from fascist and racist are I’ve got friends who are black, Asians or my son or daughter is married to one, better still I’m not a racist because my wife or husband is black, asian, or Chinese does this ring a bell?
Well there is a saying you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your relatives. The same is true that you can choose who you marry but you can’t choose your family. I’m proud to be a son of a immigrant whose parents have contribute to the economy and profundity proud to be British born, proud of our diversity and multiculturalism To all fascist and racist like it or lump it I’m here to stay with my family. What happen in Woolwich was wrong and not a true representative of Islam. Most muslims are decent hard working people who help to build the economy. The far rights groups just wants to prove a point by stirring up hate and in the process recruit more members to their organization and promote hate by any means necessary. So I put the question to the far right groups how many workshops and consultations have they contribute which had a positive outcome or is this question over their pay grade?