Sunday, September 6, 2009

Police arrest 30 after violent street clashes between anti-fascists and right-wing 'English Defence League' protesters in Birmingham

By Daily Mail Reporter

Officers were trying today to identify more people involved in violent scenes at a right-wing protest which resulted in dozens of arrests.
More than 30 people were arrested in Birmingham city centre yesterday when anti-fascist campaigners fought with supporters of a rally against Islamic fundamentalism by The English Defence League (EDL).

As shoppers looked on, gangs of men and youths hurled bottles at one another and pelted riot police with bricks in the New Street area of the city, close to the main train station.

The disorder - which followed similar violent scenes at an EDL protest last month - involved around 200 people and spilled on to the adjoining Bennetts Hill, a street lined with a number of pubs popular with shoppers.West Midlands Police said a group of more than 20 men were arrested on a bus in Digbeth High Street.Later a 'significant' number of people were also detained from buses that left the Bennetts Hill area.

They were taken into custody at stations across the city.Detective Chief Inspector Sue Southern said: 'Officers acted quickly and robustly to quell pockets of disorder caused by several groups of 20 to 30 men.

'Shoppers in and around the Bullring shopping centre were unaffected by the disorder, with retailers reporting no effect on trade.'She added: 'Officers will continue to work to identify any persons involved in the disorder.'If criminal acts or racially aggravated incidents are reported, then police will arrest and prosecute anyone found to be responsible.'

Police said they were well prepared after last month's trouble.

Earlier this week the force, along with Birmingham City Council, obtained an order from the Home Secretary banning protesters from the Bullring area of the city, under section 14a of the Public Order Act. Under the same legislation, Chief Constable Chris Sims passed an order restricting the protests to two locations - Lancaster Circus and Old Square.

But after meeting on Broad Street in the city's entertainment district, demonstrators proceeded to New Street, around half a mile away, and trouble ensued.Publishing details of the protest plans on its website, the English Defence League had urged supporters to avoid being drawn into violent clashes.

It said: 'We would like to state that anyone who wishes to cause trouble, or use this demonstration to voice any other issues other than Islamic fundamentalists, radical Islam and Sharia will be turned away.

'We are not a fascist organisation and urge anyone who knows of anybody who is intent on causing trouble on the day to contact us.'The group predicted the demonstrations would be a 'great day out', adding: 'We are confident that, due to the support and communications with West Midlands Police, this looks set to be a great day out for all concerned.'

Ms Southern said: 'The chair of the city centre partnership has commented on how successful today's operation has been in enabling the busy retail area of Birmingham to carry on trading unaffected by events elsewhere.'

Source: Mail Online

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