Police have warned they will “come down hard” on any troublemakers at the PEGIDA UK walk in Birmingham this weekend, where there will be a “highly visible police presence”.
The police threat comes the day after local Member of Parliament Liam Byrne labelled the movement “racist” as he and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn joined the city’s other 10 MPs in signing a “pledge of hope for Birmingham” attacking PEGIDA UK as “hateful”.
Solihull police commander Chief Supt Alex Murray also revealed that “people often pose the question: ‘Why don’t you ban the protest?’ However”, he said, “the right to protest is enshrined in law”.
Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson added: “People in the West Midlands are clearly fed-up with these constant protests and the effect they are having on their local policing. We would much rather that this money was spent on something else, but the police have no choice other than to facilitate protests that are peaceful.”
As Breitbart London reported on Wednesday, the French authorities’ commitment to freedom of speech and assembly is less reliable, with PEGIDA branded an “extremist splinter group” and banned in Calais on the planned Europe-wide day of protest.
Supt Murray explained to the Birmingham Mail that the British authorities are slightly more optimistic:
“The protest is away from residential and retail centres. Organisers have told us they are planning a peaceful, silent march from the train station to the protest site.
“So far around 370 PEGIDA supporters have indicated they intend to participate – and we are also planning for a small group of counter protestors near the railway station but away from the Pegida protest site.
“Ensuring there is no protestor crossover, and minimising the risk of potential flashpoints, is a key element of our event planning.
“There is nothing to suggest there is a significant risk of disorder but the public can rest assured we will take swift action against anyone committing criminal offences.
“We will have a highly visible police presence on the ground, including protest liaison officers, and sufficient police resources on standby to manage any eventuality.”
When the English Defence League (EDL), Tommy Robinson’s old organisation, and Unite Against Fascism came to Birmingham in 2013, there was widespread violence from both sides, and more than 20 arrests were made.
And, the last time a group attempted to bring the PEGIDA brand to the UK, holding amarch in Newcastle in March last year, the event was quickly overshadowed by a small number of violent Neo Nazis displaying fascist banners.
However, this time the anti-Islamisation movement has said they are working to insure this event is peaceful and racially inclusive.
They have published flyers instructing groups such as the BNP and National Front to “stay away” from the walk and will be distributing stickers for participants to put over their mouths, encouraging them to remain silent. They have also banned alcohol, face coverings and flags and banners representing other groups.
“It needs to pass off peacefully if we’re going to give normal people a voice,” Mr. Robinson told Breitbart London at the UK launch last year. “And if we were going to Birmingham city centre that would be impossible”.
“But,” he said, “because of the location we have chosen and because of the discussions we’ve had with the police I believe we will keep it quite. It’s in the middle of nowhere — car parks everywhere — and its nowhere near an Asian area”.
“However, its the police’s job to make sure nobody comes to attack us. We have chosen to be away from any problems, but we can’t do anything about left wingers who might want to cause us problems”, he added.
Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson added: “All I would say to them (Pegida) is that when they come to the West Midlands they will see that people do live together in peace and I hope that they respect that.
“The West Midlands is a diverse area, in which people from different backgrounds and cultures get on and work together well. The right to peacefully protest will be protected, but violence will not be tolerated.”