For the third time in three months violence erupted in Birmingham City Centre as a result of the English Defence League protests. The demonstrations, supposedly against "islamic fundamentalism" have instigated counter-demonstrations from Unite Against Fascism. On each occasion the "protests" have attracted both Islamophobes and young Asian lads, with both groups seemingly intent on causing trouble under the banner of free speech.
Yesterday members of the EDL were bussed in from around the country. As I blogged about here and here, leading Liberal Democrats and other leading city figures had called for the protest to be banned. It's now time for Mike Whitby to take a look at what went on in our city and ban these thugs.
West Midlands Police seem to be proclaiming yesterday as a success as violence was "limited" to certain pockets across the city centre away from the main shopping area.
That is outrageous.
The fact violence erupted at several locations in the city including Digbeth and New Street is not a good sign. It shows this went beyond any organised protest. Look at some of the photographs in the media such as the Daily Mail, which shows EDL supporters waving Israeli flags and a sign proclaiming "NO MORE MOSQUES". Rather makes a mockery of EDL's claim that they are a non-racist organisation.
The media coverage has brought shame to the city again and if we are not careful, we will get a reputation for tolerating racism. Momentum is a very dangerous thing - and right now Birmingham has it.
We need a ban on any further EDL protests - and we need it NOW.
UPDATE: You can now sign a petition calling on West Midlands Police and Birmingham City Council to ban future extremist "protests" in the city centre. Enough is enough.