Police plan to control English Defence League supporters when they arrive in Birmingham on Saturday by basing them inside a PUB for up to three hours. The right-wing protestors will be kept at Bar Risa in Broad Street from around 11am to 2pm – raising fears of a repeat of the alcohol-fuelled disorder witnessed at a previous city rally in September 2009.
The West Midlands force has drafted in 1,000 officers to police the Centenary Square event, with hundreds of EDL supporters reportedly travelling from around the country via coach and rail to attend. Anti-fascist groups are planning a protest rival demonstration in nearby Chamberlain Square.
But in a bid to keep the factions apart the Mail has learned West Midlands Police will shepherd EDL supporters arriving in the city on coaches to the popular Bar Risa from around 11am. They will then be led to Centenary Square from around 2pm for the rally which is set to finish at 4pm.
It is believed the Broad Street venue was approached by police chiefs after other pubs in the area turned down a request to host the EDL.
An insider said: “It had been suggested to some pubs that they might want to close, but their attitude was ‘why should we?’ But they didn’t want to shut and they didn’t want the EDL supporters there either. We heard Risa was asked if it would be happy to be the designated pub for the EDL members for the day, and apparently it initially said no. But police went higher up within the organisation to secure the venue.”
They added: “It was felt that either way these people were going to want somewhere to drink and police felt it would be better to keep them all in one venue, so officers could monitor them better.”
Not content with allowing the EDL to hold an intimidatory and potentially violent demonstration in central Birmingham, when they have the power (under Section 14 of the Public Order Act) to prevent this, West Midlands Police have provided the EDL with a bar where they can spend up to three hours getting drunk before the demonstration. And on top of that, when the management of the bar refused to host the EDL, the police went over their heads to senior management in the parent company in order to get that decision overruled. Is there anything West Midlands Police won’t do to assist this mob of racist thugs?
Update: See “Brum bar where EDL to be kept by cops before rally left with ‘no option'”, Birmingham Mail, 19 July 2013