Around 600 people gathered in the centre of Manchester this afternoon to protest against the second national coronavirus lockdown.
The protest, in Piccadilly Gardens, got underway at around 1pm and Greater Manchester Police issued a dispersal order. A number of police officers were injured in the process.
Four people were arrested on suspicion of public order offences and £200 fines were issued to 24 protesters.
Social media footage showed a few hundred people in attendance with little social distancing and few wearing masks.
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Many of them carried placards, one of which read: ‘Fear is the currency of control.’
One speaker using a loud-hailer told the crowd: ‘Those 300-plus politicians that voted for the lockdown are treasonous.
‘From this day forward, it will be for every single one of us to be brave.’
Some chanted ‘take off your masks’, according to the Mirror.
Some of the protesters later moved into the Northern Quarter, Market Street and St Ann’s Square.
Police said one group of protesters travelled by coach from Cumbria to attend the gathering.
Assistant Chief Constable Mabs Hussain said: ‘At the peak of the gathering, in excess of 600 people were in attendance.
‘I would like to use this opportunity to publicly condemn this gathering.
‘Both the organisers and attendees were irresponsible – increasing demand on police who are also responding to calls regarding serious incidents and people who are in immediate danger across Greater Manchester.’
He said that before and during the protest, officers tried to engage with the organisers and attendees to ‘explain the restrictions and encourage compliance’, but this was ignored.
‘Whilst responding to this gathering, a number of officers were injured,’ Mr Hussain said.
‘This is unacceptable behaviour towards officers who were simply doing their job and protecting people.
‘Investigators will now work to identify those responsible and ensure they face justice.
‘I would also like to remind members of the public that these restrictions are to control the spread of Covid-19 and protect everyone – including you and your loved ones as well as the NHS.
‘I encourage you to do your bit to fight the virus by complying with the restrictions and staying at home.’
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