Police blunders in Birmingham

by New Worker correspondent

WEST MIDLANDS Police last weekend ferried members of the Islamophobic English Defence League into an assembly point in the centre of Birmingham, where they forced a local bar to host them for some three hours, before they set off for a static demonstration in Centenary Square.

Not surprisingly the EDL members, after three hours drinking alcohol, were in a belligerent mood and at least twice broke through police lines.

While the EDL were effectively allowed to run riot, a counter demonstration by local anti-fascists supported by Unite Against fascism, was very heavily kettled — after it had been evicted from its agreed assembly point. One young woman was ordered to remove her sunglasses by police, citing regulations on people covering their faces during demonstrations, even though it was a very hot and sunny day.

The West Midlands Police drafted in 1,000 extra officers for the event but still managed to lose control of the estimated 800 EDL supporters a few times and to alienate the staff at the Bar Risa — a popular pub with local students and a reputation as a good, multicultural place to go for a drink.

The bar, seeking to keep the support of its regulars, has set aside all the takings spent by the EDL and is inviting charities to apply for it.

Police made about 20 arrests during the day and there were several injuries, including one police officer hospitalised with a head injury.

EDL supporters from East Anglia were delayed by Anglia Police after anti-fascists from Searchlight passed to them a list of 49 fascist activists due to travel to Birmingham.

Searchlight had recently monitored plans by the English Defence League to attack an anti-racist march in Ipswich and exposed the fascist woman who infiltrated a meeting at the office of Unite the Union in Ipswich held by Unite Against Fascism.

Searchlight also alerted the police and BBC about a plan to wreck a BBC Question Time programme due to be transmitted in Basildon. The plan to have somebody inside the venue to let in a gang of EDL thugs who had met up locally never got off the ground.

EDL supporter Lianne Tyler was arrested on her way to Birmingham — she had pre-empted her colleagues and managed to get drunk before setting out.

The 20-year-old, of Brailes Grove, Bordesley Green made a racist remark to a custody sergeant after being arrested on her way to Birmingham city centre.

She ended up with two nights in custody and a £100 fine after twice referring to a police officer as a “black c***”, the court heard. But the fine was deemed served by her time in custody.