Birmingham riots - the blame game
There is no doubt that the events that unfolded in Birmingham were extremely damaging for the city and its people.
Innocent shoppers locked themselves in cafes and stores for their own safety and New Street, Victoria Square and Bennett's Hill became a battle zone on the busiest shopping day of the week.
Now we are left to unravel the spin that is coming from all parties involved. Unless you were there, and saw every single skirmish, it is very difficult to establish the truth of the matter.
Let's start with the English Defence League. They claim that they did not want violence and simply wanted the freedom to hold their protest against Islamic extremism. But as one of the many reporters who followed them from Broad Street to Victoria Square on Saturday there is no doubt that they went looking for confrontation.
They sought out the 20 socialist protestors, squared up to them, beckoned them to fight them, provoked them by swearing and gesturing and then held up signs saying "no more mosques" and "Sharia Law out".
Finally, as they downed pints in Bennett's, they chanted "shove Allah up your ***" and "who the **** is Allah".
Can this really be considered a peaceful protest from a group who maintain they are not fascist or racist?
But to put the blame squarely on the EDL would be painting an inaccurate picture.
The Socialist Workers Party today sent a press release out saying they were proud to protest in the city centre. The said "We are not prepared to leave the Asian youth alone on the streets, opposing the EDL, and threatened by the police."
Their ideals are commendable but it is their actions that are questionable.
The people of Birmingham, who have a proud multi-cultural history, can make their own minds up about the EDL and their true motives. Holding a counter protest in the city on the same day as the EDL was an irresponsible move.
Yes, the SWP should have the same freedom of speech as the EDL, but did they need to do it in the same place at the same time?
I question further the actions of the SWP protestors on the streets that day. Why did they not walk away after they had made their point? Why did they continue to walk around Birmingham, seeking out the EDL for confrontation after confrontation?
What can only be called a "ring-leader", whipped up 20 SWP into a frenzy over a loudspeaker shouting "Nazi scum out of Brum". If these people had nothing to hide, why did they cover their faces?
Lastly, the police are claiming their operation was a success. Yes, the Bull Ring was unaffected and yes, the Pallasades and New Street Station remained peaceful. But the fact remains that the other end of the city centre - which is home to prominent council buildings, Tesco, restaurants and cafes - became a no go area for pedestrians.
And 90 people were arrested.
I met numerous people in a cafe by the Cathedral who had locked themselves indoors because they were so scared. Two 15-year-olds were physically shaking they were so frightened.
A skip of bricks was left unguarded despite 200 riot police lining the streets. Why were these hooligans allowed to get their hands on the rubble?
More worryingly, why trap the EDL in a pub for two hours? We all know booze fuels violence so surely a pub is the last place they should be corralled into.
We must now hope that the police can hand out as many CRASBOs as possible so they have the power to stop trouble makers coming into our city again.
We must also hope that the SWP and the EDL see that the majority of public do not want these angry confrontations on the streets ever again.
Birmingham's reputation depends on it.