Lee Jordan – Midlands Web Developer Web Development, Photography, Media Production, Social Media Collaboration and Marketing
Protests, are a lot like buses. You don’t get one for months and three come along at once. This weekend Birmingham saw the anti-capitalists protests fenced in while a group were counter protesting against the largely racist English Defence League’s protest against Islamic Sharia Law.
For me, aside from exposing the EDL for the racists they are, it really demonstrated the often overlooked negative effects of homogenization of humanity and was underpinned by the supposed modus vivendi, or rather lack of agreement between the relative pros and cons of the world becoming one.
“The weekend was underpinned by the supposed modus vivendi, or rather lack of agreement between the relative pros and cons of the world becoming one”
Occupy Birmingham, UK
Upon arriving in the city, there was an uneasy air around, but this at first seemed to be caused by the massive police presence and the fencing off of Victoria Square, where the Occupy Birmingham protests are continuing. Speaking to one of the anti-capitalist protesters late in the day, I learned that they had been fenced in since 7am and only allowed to leave for toilet breaks.
“A slight sense of irony descended over the Occupy protest as the city council would like to see them moved on, but they have been forced to remain inside their ‘protest zone’.”
For me it was a shame that the Occupy protest had been “kettled” in this way, because I would have liked to have spoken to more of those protesters before their possible eviction next week. This protest is in response to the Occupy Wall Street movement in the States which has spread beyond New York City. A slight sense of irony descended over the Occupy protest as the city council would like to see them moved on, but they have been forced to remain inside their “protest zone”.
Loving The Difference
The counter protest to the racism further up in the city was to show that most people in the city don’t support the EDL. Birmingham has a large diverse community of all backgrounds and this was celebrated in the next square up from the Occupy protest.
“Quite a few groups were in Chamberlain Sq, and it was nice to see a fair few faiths represented”
There was a heavy presence here though of the Socialist Worker and many of the banners seemed to display some unfortunate language against the EDL, bringing the counter protest down to that level wasn’t nice to see to be honest. The counter protest had themes of anti-cuts to them too and Unison were in attendance. A coalition if you will, but not a very organized one.
“Not enough was done to spread the core message there of ‘Loving The Difference’.”
English Defense League Protest
The EDL are a worrying trend in the UK and have recently put the BNP into the shade. They claim to be defending the nation against Islamic Sharia Law. Really at the heart of it they are actually angry, as are many people, with the government and some of their polices. Rather than protest against the government, like the majority of us, they choose to miss-direct their anger towards a narrow group in our diverse community.
There were glass bottles thrown at the police in break away groups who were trying to enter the counter demonstration. No doubt the fact that glasses were allowed to be taken out of city pubs today will be a lesson learned by the police.
We must congratulate the police though for containing a potentially explosive situation. Some EDL members had been letting off firecrackers and the nearby police dogs were going mad due to this.
“The EDL were responsible for the large police presence in the city, protesters had to be bussed in by police escort”
I managed to get out of the way, before the EDL break away group clashed with police. Officers from all over the country had been sent to the second city to police this event and the cost of doing so still isn’t clear at this stage.
“The EDL largely failed to bring the city into chaos, much of the disruption and tension was caused simply by the incredibly large police presence.”
Many of the connecting streets leading on to Birmingham’s main shopping area, and train station, New Street, were lined with at least 20 to 30 police officers on each side street, keen to avoid the scenes in September 2009 during a similar protest.
I feel sorry for the Anti-Capitalists
Even though the EDL failed, I think the Occupy protests were over shadowed and on the train home, I just thought how effective the Occupy protests could have been if all those people were united rather than divided along cultural lines. The cuts and the crisis we are in don’t care about skin colour, this crisis we are in discriminates on the colour of your money.
“My two pence worth: This crisis we are in discriminates on the colour of your money not your skin”
I just feel that the protest in Victoria Sq has more relevance to everyone who was in attendance today. However in my closing thoughts and going full circle to where I started, there is no real sense of unity against the crisis we have been thrown into by the financial sector and today that debate was locked out and fenced in.
Posted on Saturday, October 29th, 2011
Lee has been involved with the web for over 10 years, working on a wide range of web projects and coming from a media background, a digital native with huge ideas of how each project can benefit from an online presence. Learn more about him and his work on the about page.