Truncheon-wielding riot police in full body armour were left disoriented and confused in Birmingham yesterday as they attempted to control an obviously angry, but non-confrontational crowd who refused to give the authorities any indication of what they were protesting about.
Police chiefs responded quickly to urgent reports of a furious gathering mob in the city centre, but upon arrival at the scene instead of facing shouted abuse, burning cars, and looting, the officers came up against banners and placards saying "Forget it. It’s fine. Whatever." and "Oh, nevermind...". As the stand-off continued, the police were offered no clues to the most appropriate reaction to the situation -- traditional demo rallying calls of "What do we want?" petered out with huffy responses of "Well, if you haven't worked it out by now..." leaving the force’s mounted division and dog handlers shuffling awkwardly on the sidelines.
Meanwhile, independent observers criticised heavy-handed police tactics after tear gas was allegedly fired into the pointedly-silent protestors. But Chief Inspector Bill Chisholm, the officer coordinating the police response, vehemently denied the claims. "We’ve not done anything!" he insisted, "OK, maybe one or two of the junior officers on the front line mentioned they’d 'had enough of this and were off to the pub' but they weren't to know that would spark a mass outburst of crying, and thousands of protesters claiming 'that was just typical'. Really, this isn’t in any of the training manuals..."
Police negotiators and local politicians are still trying to determine the demands of the deeply sighing crowd, in the hope of getting a handle on a suitable response. Causes such as badger culling, public sector cuts, and iPhone5 shortages have all been ruled out, and the authorities are now researching the dates of previous major civil disturbances to check if they’ve forgotten some sort of important anniversary.
"We have officers infiltrating the gathering now to try and hear what it is the ring-leaders are texting their friends on their mobiles," explained Chief Inspector Chisholm, "We’re continually reviewing the situation, but the current thinking is that they might be upset about a bitchy remark made by my mother. I just wish someone would chuck a brick or set fire to a McDonalds, it’s so much healthier to get these things out in the open..."