Around 5,000 people have protested against recent terror attacks and extremism, and in support of the victims of the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings thought to have been organised by the IRA.
The protests were organized by the Football Lads Alliance (FLA), the True Democratic Football Lads Alliance (TDFLA), and Veterans Against Terrorism, passing off peacefully with no arrests or significant disturbances, Birmingham Live reports.
The TDFLA had a large gathering in Birmingham’s Victoria Square, and were addressed by UKIP leader and Member of the European Parliament Gerard Batten.
— UKIP (@UKIP) March 24, 2018
— UKIP (@UKIP) March 24, 2018
Batten told the crowd: “It isn’t just enough to oppose terrorism: We’re all opposed to terrorism; we’re all opposed to murder and indiscriminate crime.
“If we want to end this scourge in the world then we have to oppose the ideologies that use terrorism and use violence.
“Ideologies that rely on terrorism to propagate themselves have no place in Western, liberal, democratic, civilisation.”
Mr. Batten also promised UKIP would make a political comeback after their slump in the polls and fight for free speech and “our laws and our way of life.”
— Veterans against Terrorism (@VTerrorism) March 21, 2018
John Newey, a spokesman for the TDFLA, said: “We are here today to give our full backing to the Justice4the21 campaign,” referring to a group seeking justice for the victims of the Birmingham pub bombings and their families.
“We are a group made up mainly of football fans from all over the country,” he added.
“We are an anti-extremism organisation which aims to address the concerns of ordinary people. We are a peaceful organisation and are looking forward to making this a great success in Birmingham today.”
Describing the protest as a whole, Robinson said: “What you today is the Veterans Against Terrorism — ex-members of our Armed Forces — who’ve had enough, who are fed up with the state of our country and direction we’re going down, and you have peaceful protesters.
“Stand Up To Racism and the mainstream media have labelled this organisation as far-right, as racist — we’ve walked through the crowd; you’ve seen Gurkhas, we’ve seen different ethnic minorities, we’ve seen a combination of people.
“There’s no racism in this movement, there’s no racists here. This is a combination of common people coming together who are fed up, who are angry, who are frustrated,” he claimed.
— West Midlands Police (@WMPolice) March 24, 2018
Commenting on the protest, West Midlands Police Chief Superintendent Danny Long said: “Our aim was to facilitate the lawful protest and lawful assembly of all the groups here and that’s what’s happened today.”
“My message to everyone is a big thanks for all of your help across Birmingham today, big thanks to the public for their understanding and the city tonight is very much open for business.”
The protests were met by around 200 ‘anti-racist’ activists who held signs made by the group Stand Up to Racism (SUTR), which is itself led by former members of the disgraced Socialist Workers Party (SWP).