A DUDLEY man has been jailed for his part in an English Defence League demonstration which descended into mob violence.
Wolverhampton Crown Court was told the disorder in Walsall was sparked by racial and religious hostility and a number of police officers and protesters were injured.
There were about 600 people in the EDL group and 200 supporters of the United Against Racism group who were staging a counter demonstration in the town centre.
Judge Nicholas Webb said the EDL was exercising its right to protest and there was considerable antagonism between the two factions. EDL members surged towards a line of police officers struggling to keep the factions apart and ugly violence broke out.
He said it was vital that any protest should be lawful and confrontations had to be avoided as he ruled the courts would not tolerate "mob violence”.
Supporters of the EDL, he added, pushed, punched and kicked out at police officers who had to face a hail of missiles including bottles, bricks, coins and pieces of wood broken from street furniture and tables inside a nearby pub.
The violence lasted about an hour but fortunately no-one was seriously injured with police protected largely by their protective clothing and their riot shields.
Peter Kirkham, of New Rowley Road, was one of seven men jailed by the judge, who has a further 25 defendants to sentence after the disorder in September last year.
Kirkham, aged 30, who along with the six other men pleaded guilty to violent disorder, went to the demonstration with his mother who was a strong supporter of the EDL movement.
The judge said he tried to grab out at the police officer's truncheon and also picked up a large plant pot. He was then seen with pieces of the pot in his hand which he clearly intended to throw but he was persuaded by a man to put them down.
There was no evidence, he added, that Kirkham used direct force towards police or was behind any chanting of a racial nature.
As he jailed Kirkham for 14 months, the judge told him: "You were there to support your mother who is a committed supporter of the EDL.”
Jas Mann, for Kirkham, said he felt the police officer was trying to hit his client and that was why he went to grab the truncheon.
Mr Mann said: "He is not involved in any sort of politics and he does not hold any racist views.
"He went along with his mother out of a sense of loyalty. He went to see what it was all about. "
The other six men in the dock from the West Midlands, Bristol, Derbyshire and Leeds area were given jail terms ranging from 14 months to 25 months.