English city holds rally for peace, unity after deadly riots

Several hundred Birmingham residents rallied for peace and racial unity yesterday in memory of three men run over and killed during last week’s riots across England.

Police in Birmingham charged a third suspect yesterday in the murders of Haroon Jahan, 20, and brothers Shazad Ali, 30, and Abdul Musavir, 31.

The men were killed Wednesday after a car struck them at high speed as they stood guard outside a row of South Asian-owned shops in west Birmingham, England’s second-largest city.

The attack raised fears of gang warfare between the area’s South Asian and Caribbean gangs because residents identified the assailants as black; the victims were Pakistani. But public appeals for no retaliation, particularly from one victim’s father, Tariq Jahan, have helped to keep passions at bay.

Police said Adam King, 23, would be arraigned today at Birmingham Magistrates Court on three counts of murder. Two others Joshua Donald, 26, and a 17-year-old whose name was withheld because of his age – were arraigned yesterday on the same charges.

Five people died during four days of gang-fueled rioting that struck London starting on Aug. 6 and spread to several other English cities. Police were criticized for responding too slowly, particularly in London, but eventually deployed huge numbers of officers at all riot zones.

Police are still questioning two men over the fatal shooting of a 26-year-old man during riots in Croydon, south London. And police said last night they arrested a 16-year-old boy on suspicion of fatally beating a 68-year-old man who had tried to put out a fire set by rioters in Ealing, west London.

Britain’s Justice Ministry says more than 1,200 people have been charged so far with riot-related offenses. Several courts heard cases Sunday for the first time in modern history to try to reduce the backlog of cases. Two judges also worked full time Sunday in authorizing search warrants for police raiding homes of suspected rioters in a hunt to reclaim stolen goods.