Saturday, August 23, 2014

Gaza Protesters Banned From King Street After Weeks Of Demonstrations

Police are set to ban Gaza protesters from King Street and move them elsewhere after limiting numbers to 10 at a time.

From tomorrow (Saturday), GMP will be imposing conditions on demonstrators, including limiting the maximum number at any one time to 10 and moving them to a designated area outside an empty business on Police Street.

Police say the action has been taken because the ‘legal threshold’ required under the Public Order Act has been passed. Those who fail to comply could be arrested.

A statement in conjunction with Manchester council states: “We have shown great patience in facilitating the protests, but it is the cumulative impact of the daily protests - which is causing significant disruption to the business community on and around King Street and has led to members of our communities experiencing concern, fear and intimidation.”

Chief constable Sir Peter Fahy said: “This is not a decision we have taken lightly. The right to protest is a fundamental part of our democracy, a right fully supported by the police and city council. One of Manchester’s strengths is its diversity and we know that conflicts around the world often provoke strong emotions within our communities.

“It is only right and proper that people can protest about what is happening abroad safely and peacefully should they wish to.

“We will continue to work with civic and faith leaders and with local community groups to ensure that the important issues behind the current Middle East conflicts can be properly debated in the city in a way that does not cause serious disruption or endanger community cohesion.

“Protests such as this, which polarise views, are emotive and present difficult challenges for all involved.

“And while we will not shy away from these challenges, we have to balance our duty to uphold the rights of protesters against the rights of the public visiting and working in the city centre, local business owners and residents.

“We hope that by imposing these conditions we are finding some common ground and ensuring fairness to everybody.”

Since July 19, police have been present every day on King Street to facilitate the protest of both pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli demonstrators.

Manchester council’s deputy leader Coun Bernard Priest said: “Our city has a proud history of tolerance and mutual respect between different communities, and we cannot stand by and watch divisions and tensions be created.

“We have tried to protect people’s right to protest, but these demonstrations have had an impact on people who have absolutely nothing to do with events in the Middle East.

“Shops on Kings Street, as well as members of the public who are trying to go about their day to day business, have been affected by the protests and unfortunately we have now had to place some limited restrictions on the protests to manage the impact on the daily lives of ordinary citizens.”

Source:
Todd Fitzgerald, Manchester Evening News

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