This time around I’ve decided to document my own eyewitness report from what I saw on Tuesday night in Birmingham City Centre. I wasn’t there for the whole night as I got threatened by police to be arrested if I didn’t disperse.
For the second night, rioting was rife in Birmingham as hooded youth took to the streets in more mindless acts of violence. I was around the city centre on both Monday and Tuesday as it unfolded but was swiftly moved on from police as events got worse.
At around 3pm on Tuesday the first closures came into place with the ICC shutting its doors and all staff sent home as a precaution. Shortly following on from this, offices on Colmore Row, Great Charles Street and the majority in the central area of the shopping precinct were also advised to go home. By 4pm, local businesses such as Café Blend started to close and the Bullring shopping centre had closed by 5pm. By this time, violence had already started in the city centre as reports of youth gathering were confirmed.
I witnessed the high street’s Marks & Spencer store smashed, with both entrances breached and looters inside.
I also witnessed Black’s camping store looted with the shutters breached and thousands of pounds worth of stock stolen. Word spread of Machan, a newsagents in the Jewellery Quarter, also smashed as youth used manhole covers to breach entry and steal what they could.
I walked down Corporation Street and saw youths gathering at local business Hatman. I tried to take a video but was followed by a small group as soon as they saw me take my phone out so I headed for a safer place to get away from the area whilst police were assisting shoppers. The main front window was smashed and a lot of stock was stolen.
Although barricades were put up at the Bullring the doors were still smashed through and three shops on the periphery of the shopping centre were attacked and looted. At this point, although doing a commendable job, it was obvious police resources were stretched as there were areas of the City Centre that had no police patrolling streets.
A heavy police presence arrived at the shopping centre and gangs dispersed to areas less policed. By 9pm all main entrances to train stations were blocked and all public transport had ceased. Roads in and out of the city centre were blocked by police and further officers were drafted in.
Shortly after, local home cinema shop Superfi was looted with tens of thousands of pounds worth of stock stolen, including a number of Pioneer DJ decks worth around £1000 each.
Fires then spread across the city as cars and vans were set on fire near Digbeth, with attempted arson on buildings too. A car was set on fire on Moor Street, near a church, and Richer Sounds on Smallbrook Queensway and Nostalgia Comics were also targeted. Thankfully, Nostalgia Comics was left with just a few smashed windows on the facade - but Richer Sounds was not as lucky. The entire store was trashed and cleared out, with youths seen walking down the street smashing televisions on the floor.
Birmingham Crown Court was also later smashed up.
In the early hours of Wednesday morning (0030) Sky News and other outlets confirmed that there was a firearm discharged in the Aston area of the city in a park. Police, an armed squad and a helicopter went over to the scene to investigate after up to 20 youths were seen running away – and while officers had dispersed, The Drum, a black arts centre in South Aston was targeted and smashed.
At the same time the Muslim and Sikh community took to the streets of Winson Green to protect their community against rioters.
At approximately 0115 a hit and run collision occurred. Three innocent men were killed for simply protecting their communities. Their names were Haroon Jahan and brothers Shazad Ali and Abdul Musavir.
Surprisingly, with tension gathering around the city due to the murders, Wednesday night was peaceful, with no reported incidents in the city and West Midlands Ambulance confirming no calls of incidents related to the riots.
In the late hours of Wednesday evening a candlelit vigil was held in memory of those murdered, in one of the most powerful and moving demonstrations I’ve ever seen.