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Last Updated: Monday, 22 May 2006, 10:51 GMT 11:51 UK
Rumours and tension sparked riots
Lozells on the night of 22 October
The trouble began after a meeting calling for calm was held
Three Asian men have been found guilty of killing black IT worker Isaiah Young-Sam during riots in Birmingham last year. It was ugly rumours that first sparked the unrest.

Saturday 22 October 2005 had been a day of tension. A demonstration had been held in Lozells, following rumours a local West Indian girl had been raped by a gang of Asian men.

The rumours had spread for more than a week. Pirate radio stations are alleged to have repeated them, fuelling the unrest.

Community leaders called a public meeting at the New Testament Church of God in Lozells Road on that Saturday afternoon to try to calm the situation.

Councillor Mahmood Hussain, who represents the area on Birmingham City Council and has lived in Lozells for 40 years, recalled how the meeting appeared to have a calming effect.

A sense of injustice still exists - people still feel angry
Derrick Campbell, race equality worker

"It was quite heated at first but the Reverend Derek Webley managed to calm people down.

"The police did most of the talking and it was pretty quiet by the end."

That night Mr Young-Sam was walking home among the back streets of Lozells, a route he and his friends thought would take them away from trouble.

A court heard how those responsible for 23-year-old Mr Young-Sam's death pulled up in two cars in front of the group of men.

They got out, chased them and Mr Young-Sam was surrounded in Carlyle Road. His brother, Zephaniah, 25, said he saw him lying on the floor.

Isaiah Young-Sam
Isaiah Young-Sam was surrounded by a mob, a court heard

Isaiah Young-Sam was later pronounced dead on arrival at hospital.

Overnight 600 police officers were on the streets but three more people were stabbed and a police officer injured. At least 30 people were taken to hospital.

Residents described at least 100 youths armed with batons and baseballs bats running through the streets, hitting cars and passing motorists.

All the windows of the Union Inn, in Gerrard Street, were smashed leaving regulars scared to venture out.

The next day, Sunday, there was a scene of burnt-out cars and blood stains on the pavements.

'No rape evidence'

It was a shock that the evening had turned violent, said Mr Hussain.

"It was all about the rumours and it was all blown out of proportion," he said.

Police said they were first alerted to the sex attack claims by an anonymous caller 10 days earlier on 12 October.

Lozells - aftermath of violence
People on their way to work the next day spoke of burnt out cars

Forensic tests were carried out, house-to-house inquiries took place and thousands of leaflets handed out appealing for her to come forward.

The owner of a beauty shop, where the attack was alleged to have taken place, denied the claims and said it was part of a plot to get him closed down.

After the riots Assistant Chief Constable David Shaw, of West Midlands Police, said there was not a shred of evidence to support the rape allegations.

Mr Hussain said the area has moved on since the riots last autumn and people's lives had returned to normal again.

But Derrick Campbell, chief executive of Sandwell's racial equality council, disagreed.

He said the riots, and the fact the rumours grew, were a symptom of an underlying cause, and that even though the communities tend to get on well, the tension had not gone away.

"The problem is people do not have proper access to council services and proper healthcare," he said.

"A sense of injustice still exists. People still feel angry.

"They feel they do not have access to services. That night, we saw the symptoms, not the cause. The cause has not altered."




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