Birmingham & Black Country

EDL Birmingham protest: Bottles thrown at police

EDL demonstration
Image caption Hundreds of English Defence League (EDL) supporters protested in Centenary Square
UAF protest Chamberlain Sq
Image caption Opposition groups staged a rival protest in Chamberlain Square
EDL demonstration
Image caption Lines of police kept EDL and opposition groups apart
EDL protest
Image caption Protesters climbed on to bus shelters and some threw missiles
EDL protest
Image caption More than 1,000 extra police officers were drafted in to deal with the protests

Four people have been arrested after bottles were thrown at police during an English Defence League (EDL) protest in Birmingham city centre.

Hundreds of supporters of the far-right group massed in Centenary Square, where the missiles were thrown. Opposition groups convened in Chamberlain Square.

Police said one officer had been taken to hospital with concussion.

A number of anti-EDL protesters broke through a cordon but further trouble was prevented, police said.

West Midlands Police originally said officers had arrested 33 people for public order and breach of the peace offences.

Police said: "Earlier figures included arrests after a member of the public reported two groups breaching the peace.

"On arrival by police the groups were detained but after further investigation a breach of the peace was not established and the groups were de-arrested."

West Midlands said about 1,000 extra police officers had been on duty and the force helicopter had been used to monitor the situation.

EDL supporters met outside a bar on Broad Street from 11:00 BST and were led to Centenary Square by police at 13:30.

EDL 'provocative'

BBC WM's Nick Southall said a number of EDL protesters had climbed on to bus shelters on Broad Street and some had thrown bottles and cans.

He said they had also pulled down metal fences around the Rep theatre in Centenary Square and thrown bricks, bottles, and pieces of steel at police lines near the Hyatt hotel.

Some protesters were treated by paramedics for head wounds, he said.

In Chamberlain Square, people from opposition groups, including Unite Against Fascism (UAF), held a counter-demonstration.

Student Aaron Kylie said he had travelled from London to support the UAF rally.

He said: "Our protest represents the diversity of Birmingham. The EDL want to spread hatred and division.

"It is provocative from the English Defence League to come to Birmingham in the month of Ramadan and also after a number of mosques have been attacked in the West Midlands."

'Getting somewhere'

The EDL said it was protesting because it wanted the reintroduction of "spy" CCTV cameras in the Washwood Heath and Sparkbrook areas of the city.

More than 200 cameras - some of them covert - were put up in the two districts in 2010, paid for with £3m of government money, to tackle terrorism.

Image caption Some protesters were treated for head injuries

They were dismantled in 2011.

EDL leader Tommy Robinson said: "We need to reinstall these cameras to keep people safe.

"The fact we've got a local Muslim MP [Perry Barr MP Khalid Mahmood] also calling for the cameras to be put back in means we're getting somewhere.

"To be honest, if the police agreed to reinstall them, we wouldn't even have come to Birmingham."

Mr Robinson said the group was also protesting after six Birmingham men were jailed last month after admitting to a plot to attack an EDL rally in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.

More than 30 different community organisations from across Birmingham had handed a petition to West Midlands Police calling for Saturday's EDL protest to be banned.

West Midlands Police said it had no powers to ban "static protests".

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