2nd November 2016 The Defence reminds us why we are here
As you know we have asking for weeks, why are we here, the Rotherham 12 are victims. As Michael Mansfield opened the defence case he chose to provide an answer for the jury, ‘what are we doing here, well if someone had done their job, we wouldn’t be here, you the Jury wouldn’t be here, and the the defendants wouldn’t be in the dock’.
He told the jury that the case was about ‘real life events that took part in a few minutes, three or four minutes at most’. After reminding the jury that the defendants did not go looking for trouble, ‘they didn’t go into another town, they all lived locally, some within a few minutes walk from Wellgate’. He then compared the Silver Commander, Chief Inspector Butterworth, to Manuel from Faulty towers, ‘the extent of his ignorance beggar’s belief’. He told that this isn’t a case of hindsight, or of bashing authority, as the police had a difficult job, and the Silver Commander couldn’t be expected to know everything, but there were officers tapping him on the shoulder telling him what the far right were doing and yet he still claimed ‘he knew nothing’. The toxic mix of well known far right trouble makers who had already told the police they had no intention of sticking with the Britain First march, and the William Fry pub, a well known hotspot for far right drinkers, and and not one police officer from the 800 present on the day being deployed to the location meant that members of Yorkshires Finest were given a free opportunity to fling provocative racist abuse. He asked the jury to consider, ‘if you had 10-12 drunken men being aggressive racist and threatening what would you do?’
Later the first defendant, Asif Zaman gave evidence. He talked through how he had lived peacefully near the pub for over 30 years, and over this time Rotherham had been a nice trouble free place to live, until the Jay report was published and then suddenly everything changed. He avoided every march until the murder of Mushin Ahmed, and went on the final march to show solidarity and support for the murdered man. He talked about how he was kettled in and wasn’t allowed to go home, and made to talk in a certain direction which led directly to the William Fry pub, and he described how heard glass breaking and then he saw his own children, and his friend’s children walking at the front of the march being confronted by the 10-12 far right men. He ran down to the front of the march and said to the men that, ‘they are just children leave them alone’, but the response was simply ‘come on you Paki, come on you pedo”, so I retreated.
The trial continues
October 25, 2016 Another day another revelation
The Rotherham 12 trial began almost two weeks ago with an admission by the CPS that the far-right group were shouting “vile racist abuse” at locals, using language like “Paki bastards”. But, the prosecution said, the far-right group “got rather more than they bargained for” when they started a fight with the men on their way home from the counter-protest, finding themselves very quickly outnumbered. In our last post reported how the court came to learn that a far right organization called Yorkshire’s Finest was bent on targeting Asian families in Rotherham with violence, and we therefore asked the question, ‘why did the Rotherham 12 get charged?. As this court case progresses we ask this question again and again.
Today we learnt that South Yorkshire Police had decided in the weeks prior to the march that this would be a much larger march and the threat level was raised from medium to high risk, meaning the likelihood of violence to local people was considered to be high by the Force.
Chief Inspector Richard Butterworth of South Yorkshire Police revealed that the command unit had no CCTV images and wholly relied on radio contact from Police units at the scene. The Policing strategy for the day focused its attention on escorting the Far right to the march and back to the train station, it had not focused its attention in making sure local people got home safely, nor did it focus its attention on the factions of far right groups who did not want to attend the agreed march, nor did it focus any policing resources to pubs such as the William Fry which had a reputation with far right supporters. Defence barrister, Michael Mansfield QC, told the court that police records show that a senior officer had a conversation with members of Yorkshires Finest at 1.15pm and reported that they were refusing to stick to the agreed march plans. Police photographers took their photographs at 1.30 and at 2.30pm another Police officers had reported to the Command centre that he had seen three people from Yorkshires Finest at the William Fry pub on Wellbeck. CI Butterworth couldn’t recall why these reports were not followed through at the time. He later agreed that with hindsight had these report been followed through, and legal sanctions used at the time, the incidents with the defendants might not have taken place.
The case continues. ..
October 24, 2016 Muslims of Rotherham: Sitting ducks and South Yorkshire police
Since the publication of the Jay Report many Muslims in Rotherham have felt uneasy living in the town on a daily basis. The report led to a sense of unfair scrutiny and expectation that they might fail to continue to be a part of the local community, and this was further amplified through some voices in the media and through a vicious hatred fuelled by Far Right Political groups.
Tensions in the town increased over the past year with each successive provocative political activity. These political interventions by the far right were designed to provoke a reaction and a counter demonstration, and to label Muslims as diﬀerent, victims and outsiders. They raised issues of racism, nationalism and immigration, all of are which are completely irrelevant to the majority of people within the town, and in turn damaged years of community religious tolerance and understanding which had been built over decades of different communities living together in peace.
The community deliberately kept away and resisted the temptation to respond to the racist slurs, the hatred and attacks used to belittle citizens in the town. Even when they felt under the spotlight, the pressure mounting, and they knew they were under siege from unwanted and undemocratic demonstrations, they did not react. They relied upon the Police to protect them, but South Yorkshire Police did little to quell anxiety at grassroots level, and instead of seeking to build community relations, they focused their attention on activities within mobs, paying scant attention to the need to protect innocent victims who were left to defend themselves and their property against escalating violence. After a local elderly Muslim man was murder, things changes and matters have now come to a head with the trial of the Rotherham 12, a group of Asians being in the wrong place at the wrong time and let open to menacing threats and violence without police support.
The trial has now started and over the past week the CPS finally admitted that the trouble was started by the drinkers at William Fry Pub. They also admitted that the drinkers at the pub were members of right wing groups and that the police had no dispersal plan for the counter demonstration taking place after the murder of Moshin Ahmed. The most startling revelation made by the CPS was that the police had intelligence that the leaders of Yorkshire’s Finest, a group that prides its self on its violent outlook, with the slogan, “we come, we f*** things up, we leave”, would be at the gathering and avoid joining the march, one assumes in order to carry out attacks on local Muslims.
A central question we must now ask is whether the police gave any thought to the consequences of directing a small group of Muslim counter demonstrators past a well known right wing drinking establishment, without their presence and support; knowing that a violent group intended to target Muslims. Their intelligence should have suggested that an attack was extremely likely and imminent. This information should have been shared with the organisers. If it could not be shared, precaution of extra security should have been available to ensure that the minority reached home safely. Another approach may have been to keep an eye on the right wing individuals who were in the town centre to make sure they caused no harm to the Muslims and escalation of tensions were diﬀused.
When members from the local Muslim community made their way home, (the route being designated by the police) they were subjected to vile and disgusting abuse and attack from the very group who had intended to attack Muslims outside William fry pub. This was done to provoke the crowd, and a number of Muslims defended their children and community from this very attack and to their credit stopped what could have been a far worse outcome. The police were not there to protect the Muslim population at that time and what was worse, three weeks later twelve men were charged with violent disorder as a reward for essentially doing what the situation and circumstances demanded and could not have been avoided.
Were the Muslims once again being used as sitting ducks for target practice by the south Yorkshire police? Why was there no intelligence on the ground as to the whereabouts of Yorkshires Finest? Knowing that they planned to attack peaceful demonstrators surely a designated task force should have been used to track the movements of this group, and ensured that their designs failed.
Even when the verbal abuse and attacks by bottles started, the police did not arrive quick enough, why? The only conclusion one can draw from this is, the Muslims were sitting ducks and it was completely by luck that no one was seriously injured or hurt, and the actions of the twelve men ensured that things did not get out of control. These men who had defended the community should never have been charged.
To charge these men with such serious oﬀences belies belief and creates a chasm between the community and SYP and this court case has so far exposed the thinking, and further strengthened the paranoia that the Muslims are fair game for the institutions to play politics with and use as cannon fodder, whilst avoiding and evading true accountability to the good people of Rotherham. The trial continues..
October 21, 2016 Simon Israel from Channel 4 posted the story below from the Rotherham 12 trial
A jury’s been hearing how a far right organization called Yorkshire’s Finest was bent on targeting Asian families in Rotherham with violence.
Prosecutor Paul O’Shea told Sheffield Crown Court that the group was made up of veteran football hooligans with links to the English Defence League, British National Party and the former National Front.
He described Yorkshire’s Finest as racist activists with a history of involvement in extreme violence.
The jury was handed photographs from the group’s Facebook site, one of which shows a Union Jack with the words “We arrive, We …. …. up, We leave”.
The court was told the group looked for opportunities to carry out attacks on Asians and Muslims to give themselves a more militant image than other far right movements.
The jury was told the South Yorkshire town had hosted 14 far right demonstrations between August 2014 to September 2015 which had created an atmosphere of fear and anxiety.
The details emerged in the trial of 10 Asian men accused of violent disorder in allegedly attacking some members of the group at the end of a right wing extremist march through Rotherham in September last year.
The prosecution also revealed that police had intelligence that the leaders of Yorkshire’s Finest would be at the gathering but would avoid joining the march in order to carry out attacks.
The ten accused deny violent disorder and the trial continues.
The original story is here http://blogs.channel4.com/simon-israel-home-affairs/activists-bent-targeting-asians/1762
10th October 2016
The trial of 12 Asian men, known as the <em>Rotherham 12,</em> started today. The charges relate to an incident, which occurred during a far-right Britain’s First demonstration in Rotherham in September 2015. The 12 men, namely Asif Zaman, Mohammed Saleem, Arshad Khan, Abrar Javid, Imran Iqbal, Nasrum Rashid, Moshin Mahmood, Sadaqat Ali, Shaban Ditta and Akaash Nazir all claim they were acting in self-defence. The men are in court charged with violent disorder. In addition, one of the defendants, Asif Zaman, has also been charged with carrying an offensive weapon.
In court today, Paul O’Shea, prosecuting, said the far-right group was shouting “vile racist abuse” at the men, using language like “Paki bastards”. He added that the far-right group “got rather more than they bargained for” when they started a fight with the men on their way home from the counter-protest, finding themselves very quickly outnumbered. “Having started the trouble, as often happens in these sorts of circumstances, they found themselves in serious trouble themselves and on the receiving end of something they started” .
The jury was also shown various pieces of CCTV footage that showed two groups fighting in the street outside the William Fry pub in the South Yorkshire town before the police arrived, and later in the afternoon they visited the site of the fight.
Importantly, the prosecution today acknowledged the negative impact of the Far right marches through Rotherham. Paul O’Shea noted “the marches represented a significant and unwelcome intrusion into the lives of the people of Rotherham, an unwanted drain of police resources.. nor was it conducive to maintaining harmonious community relations.” Furthermore he noted that the local Asian community did not involve themselves in any counter demonstration, “that situation however altered following the murder of an 81 year old man Mr Mushin Ahmed on August 10th 2015. It is in the context of that incident which you can well appreciate caused shock and outrage in the local community that on 5th September when yet another march was planned, the local community did involve itself in the counter protest. ”
Although these statements from the Prosecution seem to acknowledge both the racism stirred up though the previous Far right marches, and also that on the 5th September 2105, it was the Far Right who started the fights, the Proseuction statements failed to explore the impact which this racial hatred had upon the victims, and how this relates to the notion of ‘self defence’. Indeed so far the court has not heard any guidance about ‘self defence’.
The case continues and is expected to last around six weeks.
written by Jagdish Patel
For further information you can watch this news clipping from Channel 4 news