Radio Sandwell Local News

EDL Birmingham protest: Bottles thrown at police

2013-07-20 19:19:21

English Defence League
Lines of police kept EDL and opposition groups apart

Four people have been arrested after bottles were thrown at police during an English Defence League (EDL) protest in Birmingham city centre.

Hundreds of EDL supporters gathered in Centenary Square, where a number of missiles were thrown. Opposition groups convened in Chamberlain Square.

Police said one officer had been taken to hospital with concussion.

A number of anti-EDL protesters broke through a cordon but further trouble was prevented, police said.

Nick Southall

You could feel the tension in the air from the minute
the English Defence League arrived on Broad Street.

 

There were a number of different divisions from
across the country - I saw Union flags and large
banners from Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland and
Yorkshire.

 

The crowd marched slowly up the centre of the road
to Centenary Square, singing and chanting.

 

Bus stops were damaged and bottles and cans were
thrown at police officers.

 

Police said a number of people at the counter protest
had broken through a cordon but further trouble was
prevented.

West Midlands Police originally said officers had arrested 33 people for public order and breach of the peace offences.

It said: "Earlier figures included arrests after a member of the public reported two groups breaching the peace.

"On arrival by police the groups were detained but after further investigation a breach of the peace was not established and the groups were de-arrested."

West Midlands said about 1,000 extra police officers had been on duty and the force helicopter had been used to monitor the situation.

EDL supporters met outside a bar on Broad Street from 11:00 BST and were led to Centenary Square by police at 13:30.

EDL 'provocative'

BBC WM's Nick Southall said a number of EDL protesters had climbed on to bus shelters on Broad Street and some had thrown bottles and cans.

He said they had also pulled down metal fences around the REP theatre in Centenary Square and thrown bricks, bottles, and pieces of steel at police lines near to the Hyatt hotel.

Some protestors had been treated by paramedics for head wounds, he said.

In Chamberlain Square, people from opposition groups, including United Against Fascism (UAF), held a protest.

Student Aaron Kylie said he had travelled from London to support the UAF rally.

He said: "Our protest represents the diversity of Birmingham. The EDL want to spread hatred and division.

"It is provocative from the English Defence League to come to Birmingham in the month of Ramadan and also after a number of mosques have been attacked in the West Midlands."

English Defence League
Protesters climbed on to bus shelters and some threw missiles

'Getting somewhere'

The EDL said it was protesting because it wanted the reintroduction of "spy" CCTV cameras in the Washwood Heath and Sparkbrook areas of the city.

More than 200 cameras - including some which were covert - were put up in the two districts in 2010, paid for with £3m of government money to tackle terrorism.

They were dismantled in 2011.

EDL leader Tommy Robinson said: "We need to reinstall these cameras to keep people safe.

"The fact we've got a local Muslim MP [Perry Barr MP Khalid Mahmood] also calling for the cameras to be put back in means we're getting somewhere.

"To be honest if the police agreed to reinstall them, we wouldn't even have come to Birmingham."

English Defence League
More than 1,000 extra police officers had been drafted in to deal with the protests

Mr Robinson said the group was also protesting after six Birmingham men were jailed last month after admitting to a plot to attack an EDL rally in Dewsbury, Yorkshire.

More than 30 different community organisations from across Birmingham had handed a petition to West Midlands Police calling for the EDL protest to be banned.

West Midlands Police said it had no powers to ban "static protests".

Source: bbc.co.uk

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