Tagged: Centenary Square

Muslim Newcastle councillor vows to support jailed far-right protestor

> Well, this is a move that should sow confusion in the ranks of the stormtroopers !

While they shared the same city streets, their political ideologies were worlds apart.

But now a Muslim councillor has become the unlikely supporter of a rioting thug jailed after a violent far-right protest.

Anthony Webster, from Newcastle’s West End, is beginning a 21-month jail sentence after he and scores of other far-right supporters ran riot on the streets of Birmingham following a march through the city.

But today Coun Dipu Ahad, a passionate antifascism campaigner who has regularly publicly condemned such views, has revealed how he tried to help the yob turn his life around after meeting him and seeing his remorse.

And the Elswick councillor now feels he may have missed his chance to save Webster, and reach out to others through him.

He said:

“I was gutted he went to jail. I think he just got swept up in it all and didn’t know what he was getting himself into.

“I hope I can work with him when he gets out and show him what different communities are about. I really think he wants to change.”

Webster, of West Road, was among more than 50 people charged with violent disorder after attending an English Defence League (EDL) march in Birmingham on July 20, 2013.

After yobs ran riot in the city’s Centenary Square, hurling missiles and injuring a number of cops, a police operation stretching across the nation swung into action to trace those responsible.

And by last week 50 rioters had been jailed for a total of more than 75 years.

But as Webster awaited his fate at court he ran into Coun Ahad on the West Road.

“After we got chatting I realised he was genuinely remorseful,” said Coun Ahad.

“He said he wanted to learn more about other cultures and religions. I told him to call me if he ever needed anything.

“He told me no one had ever shown him any support, and about three or four days after he gave me a call and we chatted.

“After speaking to me I think he realised that I’m a human being, like anyone else. I think he began to realise that Muslims are not bad people.

“He also assured me that he will withdraw his membership from any far right groups and will not partake in any demos in the future.”

Coun Ahad was so moved by 38-year-old Webster’s remorse and desire to make amends, he even wrote a letter to the sentencing judge asking him to consider giving Webster a chance – despite the criticisim he knew that might attract.

“I thought I would get a lot of backlash from people that have been fighting racism and fascism for a lot of years,” he said.

“But I was convinced that he wanted to change.

“So I explained why I was doing it and that he was a human being too.

“Some far-right group members might have racist values but that’s because of ignorance. If you can speak to these people a lot of them will change their ways.”

Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 13 Jan 2015

Middlesbrough man one of 50 jailed for part in huge EDL rally in Birmingham

A Middlesbrough man is one of 50 behind bars after violence flared at a huge EDL rally.

Kenneth Graham, aged 20, of Ottawa Road, Longlands, Middlesbrough was ordered to spend 26 months behind bars for violent disorder, after the mass protest in Birmingham City Centre on July 20, 2013.

Over the past five weeks, 50 people have appeared at Birmingham Crown Court – and were sentenced for a combined 75 years on Friday.

Most of the violence took part in Birmingham’s Centenary Square, and sparked a massive inquiry from detectives from West Midlands Police criminal investigation department to track down those who brought violence to the streets.

Operations were conducted across the Midlands and further afield to arrest those believed to be involved in the disorder.

Those sentenced came from across England.

Others from the North East include Thomas Milner, 21, of Herbert Street, Darlington, who was jailed for 16 months for violent disorder.

Sentencing for Michael Wilson, aged 20, of Arkley Crescent in Hartlepool was adjourned until 30 January.

Detective Chief Inspector Simon Wallis, who led the nationwide hunt to bring the rioters to justice, said:

“Many lives have been affected by the actions of the rioters on that day. The people who took part in the riots in Birmingham have had their lives turned upside down and so have their families.

“These men now have to spend a period of time in custody away from their families paying the price for their actions. Some family members never even knew their loved ones had been arrested and were facing time in prison.

“These people travelled to Birmingham on July 20 2013 intent on causing violence in the heart of the city. The sentences given of more than 75 years in total sends out a clear message to people intent on causing trouble.”

Around 20 arrests were made in total on the day, with supporters of both factions detained for public order offences.

An appeal on BBC’s Crimewatch in January 2014 led to people identifying themselves to police, while members of the public also contacted officers to give information on the culprits.

Smoke bombs, cobble stones, bottles and coins were hurled at police as the English Defence League and their opponents descended on Birmingham city centre for simultaneous demonstrations.

One policeman suffered concussion during scuffles with protesters while other demonstrators were left bloodied by missiles and clashes with police.

An estimated 2,000 EDL supporters turned up, chanting hate-filled, anti-Islam slogans.

About 300 people – some wearing balaclavas – from Unite Against Fascism and other groups turned out for their counter-demonstration.

More than 1,000 police officers from the West Midlands and other forces had been drafted in to keep the groups apart.

Source –  Middlesbrough Evening Gazette,  12 Jan 2015