As thousands of protestors – fighting against what they see as the unjust incarceration of Tommy Robinson (pseudonym for English Defense League founder Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon) – descended on downtown London yesterday, things grew violent according to The Evening Standard.
An agitated crowd singing and chanting in support of the man who inflamed national sentiment speaking on the subject of grooming gangs and, in particular, an alleged cover-up of the Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal. Writers from Forbes, the BBC, and CBN all echoed this sentiment in years previous, presaging this boil-over well in advance.
Dutch politician and current leader of the Party for Freedom in his home nation Geert Wilders was present to kick off the protest, along with UKIP Leader and MEP Gerard Batten. Wilders spoke on a platform behind signage reading “#Free Tommy Robinson – Exposed Muslim Groomers – Became Enemy of the State”, and called out passionately for the immediate release of Tommy Robinson. Wilders is a well-known critic of the Islamic faith, having published a documentary entitled Fitna criticizing the brutality and misogyny of the religion according to The Guardian. The release of this documentary a decade ago caused Wilders to be banned from entry into the UK for some time due to his controversial views.
The dutch politician delivered his remarks to a stirred-up crowd, the audience chanting “shame!” as Wilders described the atrocities committed by the grooming gangs, the stifling of speech surrounding this issue, and the subsequent imprisonment of Tommy Robinson.
Following the opening remarks, a boisterous crowd took to the streets, frequently clashing with police verbally and physically. A sightseeing bus was swarmed, with demonstrators taking over the vehicle and agitating from atop of it. One man wore a Donald Trump mask. Individual fights between officers and demonstrators broke out at random, verbal insults and fists being exchanged. Batons, bottles, and other objects were hurled through the air. When the dust settled for the day, five officers were reported as having minor injuries and five arrests had been made. The arrests were made for two charges of assault on a police officer, one for possession of a flare, one for possession of a weapon, and one for criminal damage to the aforementioned tour bus.
Tommy Robinson has pleaded guilty to contempt of court according to The Guardian. With a publication ban being imposed by the courts surrounding reportage in a group of ongoing rape cases in the UK, Robinson began a Facebook Live session outside Leeds court and was summarily arrested after an hour of broadcasting online. His supporters claim that these arrests indicate a cover-up of the facts concerning the grooming gang epidemic for political purposes, and further that it amounts to state censorship of speech and facts that citizens deserve to be made aware of. His critics argue that by introducing a likelihood of a mistrial for violating publication bans, Tommy Robinson may also work at cross-purposes with the justice system and generate a great deal of hatred for those who follow the Islamic faith in the process.
This is not the first time Tommy Robinson has been charged with contempt of court. A year earlier, he was charged with the same for filming inside of a courtroom with a hidden camera.
Critics of the man claim him to be a controversial, far-right figurehead. His boosters call him heroic, a symbol of free speech and working-class sentiment; a truth teller.
A petition calling for Tommy Robinson’s release on change.org has received over 600,000 signatures as of the writing of this article.