One counter-demonstrator arrested for public order offence say police
Former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson addresses a rally in Walsall in September 2012.
Up to 200 supporters of the controversial Pegida organisation joined a march to a remote Birmingham business park today.
The far-right anti-Islamic group, which has been condemned by Birmingham’s community leaders, held their protest near to Birmingham International Rail Station.
Police were out in force for the event, as well as a counter demonstration by the Unite Against Fascism group.
A police spokesman tweeted: “Around 150 Pegida protesters mustered at Birmingham International train station ahead of rally. Police managing crowd of 60 counter protesters.”
There were no reports of serious disorder or injuries. A 39-year-old man from East London was arrested at the counter demonstation for a public order related matter.
Another protest against the group under the Birmingham Unites banner was held in Victoria Square in Birmingham city centre.
Previous demonstrations, by Pegida’s predecessor group the English Defence League, have resulted in violent clashes in Birmingham City Centre.
Solihull Police Commander, Chief Supt Alex Murray, said:
We’ve been planning the operation for months; the collective efforts of our officers, Solihull Council, partner agencies, protest organisers and community groups helped ensure the event passed off without any serious disorder.
We had a large police presence on the ground, including protest liaison officers, in order to deal effectively with any issues. But we were confident the rally would be peaceful: our negotiations with Pegida representatives were positive and they stressed their intentions to express their views lawfully.
Disruption was kept to a minimum – Bickenhill Lane was closed temporarily to allow for protestors to walk from Birmingham International to the demo point but hopefully it didn’t hugely inconvenience motorists or local businesses.
West Midlands Police & Crime Commissioner David Jamieson, added:
I would like to thank the police for their thorough, sensible planning which has helped ensure the event remained peaceful.
Protests like this have a knock-on effect on the force's ability to deliver non-emergency policing. I sincerely hope this is the last protest of its sort that we see here for a good long while. The West Midlands is a place where people live side by side happily…it is sad when people from outside the region try to undermine that.