August 09, 2009

Birmingham city centre protests: Riot police arrest thirty-three people

Riot police made 33 arrests tonight as they fought running battles with rival protesters as racial tensions spilled over on the streets of Birmingham.

Two people were injured as violence broke out in the city centre between a right-wing group campaigning against Muslim extremists and anti-fascists. The rivals had held vocal but peaceful protests in separate parts of the city centre until trouble flared in New Street just before 7pm.

Terrified shoppers cowered in Primark and Saturday night revellers fled in panic as hundreds of police, some clad in full riot gear, struggled to keep the peace. As our dramatic pictures show, at one point a man shields his head as he lies prone on the ground while a young thug attempts to kick him in the face. Another photograph appears to show a middle-aged man throwing a punch as he is confronted by another man as tensions reach boiling point.

By 8.30pm police had restored order, but tensions remained high. A West Midlands Police spokesman said: ‘‘We can confirm 33 arrests have been made to date the majority for disorder. To date there has been one report of criminal damage to a car, although we expect further reports. We have also had reports of two people being injured and no known injuries to police officers. A high visibility policing presence continues. A post operation investigation has now commenced into any criminality that took place during this afternoon’s protests.’’

The unrest flared after a group called Casuals United (more info on the 'Casuals' here and here) organised the city centre demonstration against Islamic fundamentalists. The group rumoured to have links to the English and Welsh Defence League and the far-right BNP were formed after radical Muslims caused outrage by protesting against returning British troops in Luton earlier this year.

But Unite Against Fascism organised a rival rally after claiming the Casuals are made up of hardcore soccer hooligans intent on causing racial unrest. Their protest took place next to Birmingham’s Bullring, while the Casuals gathered outside the council house in Victoria Square.

It us unclear what sparked the disorder, but riot police were soon involved in a large number of incidents and at one point they were forced to seal off New Street with a steel barrier. Other officers were seen running ran across Corporation Street, desperately trying to keep the opposing sets of protesters apart.

Scared shoppers fled in all directions as chaos and confusion descended on the city centre. Emily Bridgewater was buying clothes in Primark on New Street when violence broke out. She said: "Everything seemed fine until suddenly it all kicked off outside and there was stampeding and screaming. We ended up being locked in Primark, the shutters came down and the alarms went off as the riot police tried to regain control of the street. It was very frightening."

Perry Barr MP Khalid Mahmood condemned those involved in the disorder. The Labour MP had previously called for the Casuals rally to be banned after the Sunday Mercury first revealed the plans. He said: "I predicted this would happen when the Casuals announced their protest. Lots of innocent people, children and families, could have been hurt in this idiotic incident and I wholeheartedly condemn both sides for taking part in these scenes which have brought shame on Birmingham.

"I condemn the Casuals for organising their protest and inciting this fighting but I equally condemn the anti-fascist campaigners who rose to the bait. People have a democratic right to protest. But perhaps in future West Midlands police should look at holding sensitive demonstrations on separate days. That way they might avoid the scenes which have blighted our city centre tonight."

A West Midlands Police spokesman said the force had been aware of the planned rally by the Casuals but no formal request to march had been received. He said: ‘‘An additional counter protest also took place in the city centre by Unite Against Fascism. West Midlands Police has been in talks with leaders of this organisation and they have fully co-operated with police throughout the planning stages for this event.’’

Sunday Mercury


Anonymous said...

'Casual' Footie hooligans kick off and start attacking people!

Shock, Horror...what a surprise!

Isn't being shocked by this similar to expressing surprise at the sight of dogs pissing up lamp posts?!

What I am curious about is why these hooligans are so desperate to declare that they have nothing to do with the bnp and that they are not racist (despite the fact that they enjoy shouting 'p*ki' at any asian passersby during their demos)?

I would have thought that they and the bnp were a match made in heaven (or should that be hell?).

Anonymous said...

The BNP deny they're racist. These 'casuals' deny they're racist. Of course the two are the same organisation.

You don't get this type of thuggish behaviour with tennis and golf, hey!!!

Anonymous said...

If people try to understand things through the prism of their own prejudices they will never learn. The guy on the YT says racists, Nazi's and then BNP all in the same sentence but clearly hasn't a clue who he is up against!

As the BNP have moved into electoral politics and the search for legitimacy other groups and individuals have rejected that approach and now seem to be flexing their muscles. We had better start educating people otherwise they won't have a clue whats really going on.

Anonymous said...


Okay then, that means you are NF or possibly KKK, and you just don't like P*kis!

Blue Chip said...

The public sector responsible for running Birmingham spends to much money on failed transformation programmes and origami. The funding should be diverted into addressing a lack of social mobility faced by all communities. There are too many disenfranchised young people in Birmingham. I'm not surprised they want to kick each other to bits. Coz there is nothing else for them apart from blame each other for their predicament.

Anonymous said...

I NEVER want to see anything like this in Birmingham ever again. West Midlands Police, take note!

And Blair Peach, rest in peace.

Anonymous said...

There is chatter on nazi forums about another demo being arrange for 29th August in Harrow.

andi said...

The West Midlands police are institutionally racist!

Puzzled said...

Why the fuck do soccer hooligans call themselves Casuals, and why do they wear labels like Rockport and River Island?

mary contrary said...

Surely football intelligence coppers can keep tabs on a small number of football thugs.

It's not rocket science.

Does the establishment want such groups as the "Casuals" to keep radical types sidelined from anticapitalist issues?

Answers on a postcard!

GAD said...

I'm from America. Why do British Nazis so often come from a soccer hooligan background?

You don't get this with American Football or baseball in the States.

Can someone please answer this!

Anonymous said...

''Why the fuck do soccer hooligans call themselves Casuals, and why do they wear labels like Rockport and River Island''?

because in the eighties they used to be neo nazi skinheads, but the police kept targeting them based on how they looked. They chose the 'casual' look to melt into the crowd, so they could kick off without being 'fingered' by the cops before the match began.

To the American (GAD) also:

I'm from America. Why do British Nazis so often come from a soccer hooligan background?

You don't get this with American Football or baseball in the States.

Can someone please answer this


Footie lover said...

"I'm from America. Why do British Nazis so often come from a soccer hooligan background? You don't get this with American Football or baseball in the States."

That's because the US has traditionally regarded baseball and soccer events as family oriented - as a family day out - while football over here has tradionally been the preserve of the working class male and has been targeted by the far-right for years, using support for ones national team to link to patriotism to link to "nationalism".

Kick It Out said...

The soccer thugs involved with this should recieve life bans from all football grounds by the FA.

Brummie said...

Looking at the Birmingham Mail's comments board, it seems it too has been taken over by the Enoch Powell brigade on this issue. Whyin 2009 and eleven years after Powell's death is he still being celebrated in a country where we now have an established Black British identity and a rapidly emerging British Muslim one?

Not all us English folk are colour prejudiced ignoramii!

Anonymous said...

The rise of chav culture is just as dangerous as Islamic fundamentalism if not more so!

Looking at these 'angry mobs' it's just another reason why marijuana should be legalised. So you're British and proud, well hey so am I but my brain is in my head and not in my cock!!!

Anonymous said...

The whole Casual thing started in the early 80's and has continued to the present day. It was essentially rather Thatcherite in it's outlook IMHO and it was no coincedence that it reached in height in the mid-80's. It was and still is linked to football hooliganism and unlike Mods and Skinheads it never really had a musical element. It's purely about clothes and footie.

However, the skinhead movement got tarred with the racist tag in the 70's and 80's. Casuals who are not racist had better be careful that the Casual thing doesn't go the same way.

RIPJohnMartyn said...

Humanity is more important than nationhood, that's the bottom line!

Am I as old-fashioned as the Enochists on the Birmingham Mail forums?

Anonymous said...

To the American guy, the England football (soccer) team are something of a joke over here, we have to keep praising them religiously even though a) their grossly inflated pay packets and egos do not equate to the crappy football they play (compare that with Argentina and Brazil) they have not won a single thing since 1966, their manager's job is more of a poisoned chalice as that of the Prime Minister and, strangely enough the players are more famous for their drunken and violent antics in nightclubs and pubs (Gerrard, Rooney) and childish behaviour in front of the press (Gascoigne) than they are for, yes the skill of their game.

So their fans, mostly white, male and from social groups D and E (ie lower class) tend to make more of a noise, and gee'd up by the likes of the Sun newspaper (odious right wing tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch) the Daily Star (even more odious right wing tabloid with an editor who doesn't know the difference between patriotism and racism) and TALKsport radio (the unofficial voice of the BNP) there you have a recipe for a neo Nazi confrontational soccer thug.

But it's a million times worse in Scotland. Even certain sections of the White community are not welcome at Glasgow Rangers' matches, a call centre worker I was talking to in Scotland last year told me he's frightened to take his children there even though it's his local soccer club.