Posted on October 13, 2011

The Terrifying Moment Hundreds of Sikh Protesters Smashed Their Way into a Community Centre in Protest at It Selling Meat and Alcohol

Claire Ellicott, Daily Mail (London), October 12, 2011

Pouring through the gates, these men are part of a mob of religious zealots who went on the rampage in protest at the sale of meat and alcohol in a Sikh community centre.

The CCTV image has been released by police in an attempt to bring to justice the vandals who stormed the building and wrecked the kitchens.

The trouble erupted after managers at the centre agreed to serve alcohol and meat at a private party that night, but practising Sikhs heard about the plan and organised a demonstration.

The protest, in Dudley, West Midlands, is believed to have been attended by members of the UK Sangat organisation. The hardline movement campaigns to prevent the consumption of meat and alcohol, and the breaking of other Sikh rules, on holy land.

After a peaceful start, the protest turned violent and police were unable to hold back the crowd.

In the newly released CCTV images, protesters can be seen forcing their way through a cordon of police officers and storming through the centre gates.

One image shows an angry rioter with a chair raised above his head, as other protesters rampage through the centre causing devastation.

Police from all over the West Midlands were drafted in to calm the situation and a police helicopter monitored the violent scenes on May 29 this year, while roads around the building were closed for five hours to allow emergency services access to the site.

Specialist officers were dispatched to the scene to help negotiations between the militant Sikhs and under-siege staff. But the mob’s numbers quickly spiralled.

One policeman was left with head injuries and another suffered dental injuries after the protesters began pelting officers with bricks, bottles and missiles.

After forcing their way into the centre, they barricaded themselves inside and trashed it, causing ‘significant damage’.

A tense five-hour stand-off followed which ended only after managers at the Sikh Cultural Centre gave in to the protesters’ demands and cancelled the sale of meat and alcohol.

At the time, protest organisers told reporters: ‘All Sikhs should be aware of the basic Sikh tenets that meat and alcohol are not permissible in the Sikh faith.

‘The centre owners have insulted the Sikh faith and violated Sikh Maryada [code of conduct] by allowing a party to take place at the Sikh Cultural Centre.’

Inspector Richard Jones, from Dudley Police, said: ‘What started as a peaceful protest soon turned to violence when a minority of people started throwing missiles at officers and then forced their way inside the centre.

Significant damage was caused to the premises and our investigation into what happened on the day continues.

‘Detectives have trawled through CCTV from the site and the vicinity as part of the inquiry and we now ask for help in identifying some of those people we would now like to speak to. We urge anyone with information to assist with identification to come forward and help us at their earliest convenience.’