EDL and Peace protests in Birmingham centre this Saturday (29/10/2011)

As many will be aware, the English Defence League will be undertaking a protest in Centenary Square this Saturday the 29th of October 2011. A simultaneous Peace Rally is taking place in Chamberlain Square with police cordons segregating the two groups. On Wednesday, the EDL’s protest area was altered to conform to safety requirements, as confirmed by the Birmingham Safety Advisory Group (incorporating West Midlands Police and the other emergency services). West Midlands Police have also issued a number of conditions upon the protest:

The protest shall take place in Centenary Square.
The duration of the protest will be no longer than 2 hours commencing no earlier than 1pm and ending no later than 3pm on 29 October.

A static protest will be taking place by supporters of the English Defence League, while a separate community event will also be held in the city simultaneously.

They continue,

The event, and any counter demonstration, will take place in Chamberlain Square.
The event will be no longer than three and a half hours commencing no earlier than 12.30pm and ending no later than 4pm, on 29 October.

As on previous occasions, police have no power to ban a static protest – in fact the right to protest peacefully is a sign of a healthy democracy and we have a positive duty to facilitate that right. Assistant chief constable Marcus Beale, who will lead the policing operation, said: “We have to balance the desires of those involved with the safety requirements for the event, and ultimately this has to take precedence.

“We want people to feel reassured and in response to community concerns, we will be staging a large-scale operation on the day to ensure that everyone who comes to the city centre, be it to take part in the protests, or to go about their day to day business, can do so in safety.

“West Midlands Police do not welcome this protest as we recognise that many people feel anxious about it being in the city so soon after the disturbances in August. Like them, we believe that our resources would be better placed in neighbourhoods tackling the crimes which matter most to local people.

“With that in mind, we urge people to go about their normal business and not allow the protest to affect them or undermine Birmingham’s reputation as a harmonious city with many different cultures living alongside each other in peace. The policing operation will strive to ensure it remains that way. Any criminal or public order offences will be robustly dealt with.”

If you are intending on visiting the city centre on Saturday, please bear these restrictions in mind and avoid the area entirely if at all possible. The last time the EDL were in town, acts of random violence and some vandalism occurred (although mostly undertaken by people purporting to be EDL supporters, other groups of people were also involved, possibly in retaliatory action.) No doubt police presence will be visible and high profile in order to curb any inflammatory actions.

A press release from this afternoon reports the following cordons are to be imposed upon the centre as a result of the protest:

[…] Access to Victoria Square will be restricted with police cordons in place around [Centenary] Square. Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale, who is leading the policing operation, said: “We understand that the policing operation may cause some inconvenience to members of the public who intend to visit attractions around Victoria Square on Saturday, however the cordons are unavoidable.

“We apologise for any inconvenience the cordons may cause, however we have to balance the desires of everyone involved, with the safety requirements for the event, and ultimately this has to take precedence.”

Under Section 14 of the Public Order Act, conditions have been placed on both events, and organisers have been informed.

ACC Beale added: “We want people to feel reassured and in response to community concerns, we will be staging a large-scale operation on the day to ensure that everyone who comes to the city centre, be it to take part in the protests, or to go about their day to day business, can do so in safety.

“[…] We urge people to go about their normal business and not allow the protest to affect them or undermine Birmingham’s reputation as a harmonious city with many different cultures living alongside each other in peace. The policing operation will strive to ensure it remains that way. Any criminal or public order offences will be robustly dealt with.”

Maps of the defined protest areas follow.


Images courtesy and © Copyright West Midlands Police, used with permission.

Published by Christopher

The guy behind About Brum - living and working in Birmingham and the Black Country. I love this city!

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