Rioting broke out in the Lozells area on Saturday, October 22, after an Asian beauty salon owner was said to have been behind the gang rape of a black schoolgirl. Although local police have yet to ascertain whether the incident took place, and the salon owner has pleaded his innocence, the rumoured rape incited a riot which led to the death of a 23-year-old man, 10 arrests and 80 recorded offences. Police forced Asian retailers trading in the predominantly Afro-Caribbean community to close their stores for their own safety on the Saturday, but many were angry at the amount of trade they lost in the process.
The retailers have vowed that they won’t be bullied out of their stores again. Mohammed Jahanjir, who runs Marpur Stores on Lozells Road, is determined that his c-store business will carry on as normal.
He said: “There has been rising tension in this area for some weeks, and that Saturday was particularly bad. I closed for a few hours but I’m determined that the store will stay open from now on. “The rumours are still circulating and the tension is still there, which has worried my staff, but sales-wise the store has been steady. “We are hoping the trouble will not start again.”
A statement from local retail group the Birchfield Traders Association said: “We cannot be ruled by mobs of people who want to take the law into their own hands. We have worked alongside the black community for many years and should not let unsubstantial rumours divide us now.”