Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Extremists Bring Violence and Fear to Midlands Town

By Ben Aulakh

An extremist far-right group brought violence and fear to one Midlands town after staging a so-called protest at the weekend.

The English Defence League held its second supposed demonstration in Dudley, Birmingham, with around 500 people gathering to protest against the construction of a new mosque.

However – despite the event initially passing off peacefully – violence soon erupted between rock-throwing members of the EDL and police.

Metal railings were smashed and hurled at police as protestors attempted to break through police lines; however this was after many people had left the event, held in a car park on Stafford Street in the town.

A total of 21 people were arrested, 17 for violent disorder, two for affray, one for a public order offence and one for possession of an offensive weapon.

The event also looks to have cost taxpayers in the area more than £150, 000, the second time locals have footed the bill for such a protest.
Assistant Chief Constable Sharon Rowe of West Midlands Police said, “It is very disappointing that we are this morning dealing with a number of people in custody, after a great deal of effort went into facilitating a peaceful protest by the EDL.
“We worked very hard to try and make this event pass off peacefully and it is hugely disappointing that despite these efforts, there were still elements from the EDL and local youth’s intent on causing disorder.”
Dudley was also turned into a ghost town as almost all shops were closed and boarded up, with the regular Saturday market also unable to trade.
A large store in the town remained open, though only after its outside windows were completely boarded up.
A member of staff from the store who did not wish to be named said, “We aren’t expecting any trouble, though this was a general flashpoint last time so it is possible.
“It was fifty/fifty as to whether we would open, but we had a couple of months notice from the council and police to prepare for today, so we decided we would open.”
Running battles between local youths and EDL supporters went on all day with locals often getting caught in the crossfire of missiles and abuse from both sides.  
Asst Chf Con Rowe added, “Every effort will be made to identify those involved in disorder and criminal behaviour and bring them to justice as such behaviour is completely unacceptable and is extremely disappointing.”

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