Police hunting thugs who brought violence to Birmingham city centre during a bloody EDL rally have identified almost a third of the suspects they want to quiz – and will be knocking on their doors.
As the Sunday Mercury exclusively predicted last week, West Midlands Police went ahead with a special appeal on TV’s Crimewatch and broadcast 64 images culled from CCTV footage. Last night they revealed that 17 men had now been identified as a result, and that the search for all the others was continuing as officers followed up new leads supplied by members of the public.
Stills taken from security camera footage were shown in the nationwide appeal to trace those who took part in bloody clashes on July 20 last year. Smoke bombs, cobblestones, and bottles were hurled at police as the EDL and their opponents drew battle lines in the city centre, leading to injuries and damage.
An estimated 2,000 EDL supporters descended on Centenary Square, while about 300 counter-demonstrators from Unite Against Fascism poured into Chamberlain Square.
More than 70 people called West Midlands Police after images of the 64 men were aired on the BBC programme on Wednesday night.
Detective Chief Inspector Simon Wallis, from the force criminal investigation unit, warned rioters that time was running out – and that the police would track them down. “ I would like to thank the public for contacting us and providing us with names and information following the appeal ,” he said. “My message to anyone involved in the disorder is it is only a matter of time before we come knocking.”
So far 40 people have been arrested on suspicion of violent disorder, 20 of them detained by officers on the day.
One policeman suffered concussion during scuffles while other demonstrators were left bloodied by missiles amid clashes with the police in the shadow of the city’s new landmark library.
Det Chief Insp Wallis added: “Anyone who brings violence to our streets will be pursued by police. In one incident alone £150,000 worth of damage was caused to an office block in the city centre and violent protesters used items from the nearby construction site of the new Birmingham Library as missiles or weapons.”
Update: See “Further 16 people identified over EDL protest violence”, West Midlands Police news report, 27 January 2014