Riots in Lozells, again

A number of people have been arrested, and one died, following riots in Lozells. The trigger for this series of riots seems to be claims that a 14 year old West Indian girl (reported, by Channel 4, to be an illegal immigrant from Jamaica) was sexually assaulted by a group of South Asians. Such reports are currently unsubstantiated, no formal complaint of sexual assualt has been made and the teenager in question has apparently not come forward.

The Lozells road, in Perry Barr, has been a magnet for troubles for over 30 years, fueled by the long term deprivation of the surrounding areas of Aston, Newtown and Handsworth. During the 1980s it suffered rioting due to the actions of the National Front, Combat 18 and other race hate groups against the largely immigrant population of the area. This latest round of rioting seems to have been largely between West Indian/African and South Asian groups.

Almost half of the population of Birmingham is non-white, the black population is expected to exceed the white within the next 5-30 years (the wide disparity in dates is largely due to the different views on what peoples the term ‘Black’ encompasses). Of all the cities of Europe, Birmingham probably is probably the most racially integrated, whilst areas exist where most residents are from certain ethnic groups they are less distinct and lack the ghetto atmosphere found in many such areas in other cities.

It is perhaps a bitter irony that these riots happened during Black History Month.

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