Friday, September 04, 2009

Birmingham: more ugly scenes to come?

West Midlands Police announced they're not going to ban tomorrow's EDL march.

Last month, the shaven headed football geezers of the English Defence League were given permission to protest "against Islamism" in Birmingham city centre. That was met, as announced, by a counter-gathering sponsored by UAF (United Against Fascism) which took place outside the Bullring. As widely predicted, within an hour, mayhem ensued.

I was in the city centre when I saw the ugliest scenes since the October 2005 riots.

Innocent people (regardless of their ethnic origin) randomly having the shit kicked out of them by gangs on the rampage, hundreds of riot police effectively closing down the perimeter between New Street, High Street, Bull Street and Corporation Street, helicopters roaring in the air, tons of tension that lasted until the following day and violent scenes that were shown by the media worldwide.

None of the groups involved (and I underline, none of them, and this comes from an anti-fascist), emerged with much dignity. The police carried out over 30 arrests, and Birmingham went through an ordeal that was totally uncalled for.

So it is with utter disbelief that we learnt West Midlands Police refused widespread calls for a ban and are to allow the same demonstrations again tomorrow. In a statement, the police say: "At this stage we believe two groups intend to protest peacefully", adding that "the ability to protest is a fundamental democratic right", which sounds eerily similar to the optimistic statements in the run up to the August 8 riots.

While the appeal to democratic rights is an admirable one and the police are confident they can contain it, more consideration should be given to the overwhelming majority that does not want to run the risk of repeating August 8.

The simple truth is that Birmingham already witnessed how this has nothing to do with "the ability to protest". And, anyway, when the experiment was tried last month, it turned into complete chaos, with hundreds of Saturday passers-by seeking refuge in shops as violence erupted. So who exactly would benefit from a repeat of that?

Add to the equation that tomorrow England are playing Slovenia around the time of the planned demonstrations and the police panglossian approach appears even more puzzling.

(h/t Liberal Ladywood)


Helen Highwater said...

Oh my... I didn't know people were beaten up during the last marches. I left town early afternoon that day and saw police vans about but had no idea what had happened.

And why are they doing another march less than a month after the last one? Is "Islamification" or whatever made up word they're so bothered about really such an approaching evil? To be honest, I don't even understand what it is they're going on about, unless they've been stirred up by the liars in the right wing press and their shit-stirring approach to publishing statistics.

John from pointed out how the council seem only to be concerned about the impact of people being unable to shop:

(it's written by the person who's "director responsible for resilience" - what on earth is one of them?!)

I think people being unable to have their heads kicked in might be better, but I spose the trouble is if they say to EDL "no you can't march - look what happened last time", they'll be saying "it's health and safety gone mad" or something. and want to march about the council being meanies. "I demand the right to kick people!"

Helen Highwater said...

PS: Will my Scottish boyfriend be ok to come into town tomorrow or will the pillocks object?

Helen Highwater said...

Three times as many arrests this time. It's not obvious which side provided the most arrests, but Sky News delighted in showing us behoodied Asian teenage boys running down Bennetts Hill chased by police.

I don't think violence is admirable but I do wonder if these kids are feeling incredibly hurt by these people coming from outside Birmingham to the city they were born in and grew up in, to spew hatred.

Do you think EDL will be back for a third round?

claude said...

I hope not, Helen.
Yesterday was a total mess again. The police pleanned it all ahead and placed the EDL/Casuals on Broad Street. But no matter all the plans and stuff, the two sides still clashed.

From what I heard the EDL were the first lot to charge, as they pulled towards New Street station.
Later on roles were reversed as what were described as 'Asian youths' attacked the rightwingers near Bennetts Hill and Waterloo Street.

I honestly refuse to believe that the police cannot ban such demos. If they can issue injunctions and close down pubs and stuff prior to Villa vs Blues matches for the sake of public order, surely, I guess they can do the same with political rallies that are now proven to result in riots?

Or how about 'kettling' them? They tried it at the G20, so why not om the English Defence League?

By the way, I checked their websites and they go at lengths to say that they're not far right and they're not racist.

But I've also seen them in action, and youtube has a variety of footage of them marching. YOu'd have to be blind and deaf not to detect a clear right wing element there.

Overwhelmingly blokes, shaven head, with loads of nationalist flags etc and a few even carrying some poor innocent rottweilers and bulldogs. NOt to mention the slogans and chants.

David Nikel said...

It's outrageous the supposed "protest" was not banned. Israeli flags and signs proclaiming "NO MORE MOSQUES" hardly point towards a peaceful protest against Islamic fundamentalism.

We are going to get a reputation as a city that tolerates this sort of public display of racism.

I'm a Liberal and a passionate believer in free speech - but this goes way beyond that argument. This group are nothing more than thugs and any future protests must be banned NOW.

Moss said...

What the English Defence League should know about Islam.

Helen Highwater said...

The Searchlight "Hope Not Hate" website has several blogs about this. Apparently, EDL wanted to do one of their delightful marches in Luton. The people of Luton protested to the Home Secretary and he banned it from going ahead. So why then were they allowed to march in Brum? Did the people who would need to approach the Home Sec for a ban decide that it was actually ok?

Presumably if EDL go for a third attempt, it'll be banned then. I'm trying to get my head round the rules of this sort of thing and it's explained quite well here:

"Police can refuse to give permission for a march if they think it might lead to:-

* Serious public disorder
* Serious damage to property
* Serious disruption to the life of the community."

So reading that I'm left wondering why the hell they allowed a second EDL march to go ahead! Or maybe they just felt it was mild public disorder?

Hope Not Hate was saying you can see that some of the EDL were carrying bricks, and those "no more mosques" placards disgusted me. How many churches were built abroad during the British Empire? And why do these thickos even care - when was the last time any of them went to church?!

socialist sam said...

The EDL's attempt to appear as not from the far-right is pathetic.
Incidentally, I'm yet to spot a single woman taking part in their testosterone-fuelled knuckle dragging rallies.