A group marching through Bushey Heath yesterday was delayed by the police after it was alleged anti-Semitic rhetoric was shouted by protestors, while an onlooker was arrested for assaulting one of the marchers.
The protesters claimed to be marching about jobs, but witnesses said at least one member of the group took out a Palestinian flag as they approached the Bushey United Synagogue along London Road at around 5.15pm.
A 47-year-old man from Bushey was arrested for common assault at the scene and released on street bail, with an undertaking to present himself at a police station at a later date.
Police recovered a Palestinian flag from a bin near where the incident took place.
Councillor Leslie Winters was sitting in a cafe opposite the protest and said he heard people yelling anti-Semitic remarks when the group got within 200 metres of the Synagogue.
He said: "They started screaming out anti-Semitic stuff. I personally was very hurt by it.
"It was very bad. They raised the Palestinian flag. People were very angry.
"It was filthy language. I’ve never experienced that, it will live with me forever.
"It was so nasty, so unpleasant. Cars stopped in the middle of the road to try and stop the marchers going any further towards the Synagogue.
"What they did was disgusting. And the place they did it had maximum impact.
"I dialled 999 and saw the police cars coming. I was with a friend at the cafe, he was gobsmacked as well. It was so humiliating, devastating. It’s unbelievable that it happened in Bushey Heath."
However, police say they found "no evidence" race or religious crimes had occurred but are increasing patrols in the area to reassure local residents.
Sarah Spence, spokeswoman for Herfordshire Constabulary, said: "Police received a report at 5.23pm on Tuesday, August 19 of alleged anti-Semitic behaviour by a group of protestors walking on London Road, Bushey.
"Officers attended the area, located the group and conducted inquiries in order to establish if any offences had occurred.
"No evidence was found that any race or religious hate crimes had occurred. The group were spoken to and it is believed that a small number within the group had been carrying Palestinian flags.
"However this was denied that this was the purpose of the march and claimed they were marching across the country in relation to jobs.
"The march then continued on out of the area. Officers are conducting increased patrols in the area to reassure local residents."
The protesters are believed to have been part of the Socialist Worker Youth Wing marching from Liverpool to London.
Hertsmere has a 14 per cent Jewish population, with a large number of Jewish people living in the Bushey Heath area.
Stephen Roston, chairman Bushey United Synagogue, said: "The Jewish community in Bushey is naturally very concerned and upset about the demonstration which took place outside Flax not only because a minority of people, apparently unaware of the reality of the situation, felt the need to act but that they did so in a manner which was not peaceful and clearly therefore not helpfu. We do not condone any violent behaviour and only wish for the community at large to live in safety and harmony, we hope that peace will come soon to all troubled areas around the world."
MP for Hertsmere James Clappison added: "It has been brought to my attention that a march took place in Bushey Heath yesterday which was stopped by police.
"I am very concerned about the reports regarding an incident which took place and have been assured by police it was unconnected to the main reason of the march, which was concern regarding jobs.
"I fully support the right to peaceful protest, I certainly would not want to see one particular section of the community targeted and maybe community sensitivities taken into account.
"I have taken this matter up with Hertfordshire police."