EDL in Birmingham – an Exercise in Futility

Anti-EDL protestors ended an otherwise peaceful demonstration by running through the city centre and smashing windows. Earlier EDL supporters had thrown bottles at the other side of a heavy multi-lined police cordon. Four EDL supporters were arrested.

Welsh and Manchester police joined the West Midlands police to separate two sides of protesters.

This is the Guardian’s coverage – which is largely accurate.

This is the Birmingham Mails coverage – which focuses on the EDL violence, and the earlier part of the afternoon.

This meant that the cordons became the focus of everyone’s anger.

EDL supporters who had found themselves outside the cordon complained they couldn’t hear the speakers, those inside complained they could not get out.

Anti-EDL protesters found themselves kettled by metal walls and police lines into Chamberlain Square, although a larger and noisier contingent stood outside in Victoria Square.

Young men on both sides, spoiling for a fight, seemed to be increasingly frustrated by multiple cordons of riot police blocking roads, footpaths and underpasses between the EDL in Centenary Square and the anti-EDL protestors in Chamberlain and Victoria Square.

This meant that the cordons became the focus of everyone’s anger.

By 4pm the EDL had been pushed into Broad Street, where they were sat around looking bored and getting sunburnt. Meanwhile, the Victoria Square crowd remained vocal, arguing amongst themselves and – every now and then – with bored-looking police.

This meant that the cordons became the focus of everyone’s anger.

Suddenly a rumour flew through the crowd that EDL-protestors were in a nearby pub.  It was clearly nonsense, but that didn’t stop several dozen lads running along Colmore Row, past Snow Hill Station and then down the hill towards Newtown.

They stoned and broke windows by Lloyds House – West Midlands Police HQ. This truly mindless vandalism turned to farce as both police and protesters chased each other around the Newtown industrial estate and the canals.

Protesters couldn’t say why they had broken the windows, or what they were doing in Newtown (hardly an EDL stronghold). Several seemed nervous that they had got involved in something and they didn’t know why.

Neither side behaved brilliantly. The EDL’s message of race-hate turned to futile anti-police violence. As for the anti-EDL – I don’t think they’ll ever know why they broke the windows, or why they set off to run across the city centre.

As for the police; they spent hundreds of thousands of tax-payer pounds successfully containing the real threat of violence between the two groups of protestors – taking abuse and worse from both sides.

An exercise in moronic futility.

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