The North Rebels: Manchester Stages Mass Anti-Lockdown Rally

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: A protester holds a sign that reads 'stand up against lockdown' outside the Scottish Parliament entrance to demonstrate against a secondary lockdown, coronavirus face covering rules and the search for a virus on September 10, 2020 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The group, known as Saving Scotland, …
Jeff J Mitchell - Pool/Getty Images

Hundreds of anti-lockdown protesters took to the streets of Manchester on Sunday, in defiance of the second national lockdown introduced last week by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government.

At least 600 demonstrators marched under the banner of ‘Rise Up Manchester’ in the city in Northern England. The protesters were seen carrying signs reading “Fear is the currency of control” and “Unite for Freedom”.

According to the Manchester Evening News, protesters were also heard chanting “lock up Chris Whitty” — the Chief Medical Officer for England and one of the heads of the government’s response team for the China coronavirus pandemic.

By 2 pm the Manchester Police issued a “dispersal order” in order to clear Picadilly Gardens.

MEN reporter Steve Robson said that by 4 pm: “Police have now driven everybody out of the central part of Piccadilly Gardens and have officers around virtually the whole perimeter. All happened remarkably quickly and without too much fuss in the end. Dozens and dozens of cops here now.”

During the event, police arrested four people on suspicion of public order offences and handed out Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) of £200 each to 24 people. The organiser of the protest is expected to receive a £10,000 fine for inciting violations of the country’s draconian COVID-19 restrictions.

Assistant Chief Constable Mabs Hussain issued a statement to condemn the protest, pronouncing that the organisers and attendees were “irresponsible” for staging the gathering.

“Before and during this gathering, officers followed guidance to engage with the organiser and attendees, explain the restrictions and encourage compliance. Unfortunately, the encouragement was ignored which resulted in officers progressing to enforcement,” the ACC said.

“Enquiries have established that one group of attendees travelled to Greater Manchester from Cumbria via coach. The driver and the company they work for have both been reported to the relevant industry regulator,” Hussain added.

Chief Constable Ian Hopkins also condemned the protest, describing it as “utterly ridiculous behaviour from the organisers and the protesters, deliberately breaking the law and putting our communities at risk.”

On Thursday of last week, students at the University of Manchester rebelliously tore down series of “prison-like” metal fences that had been erected around dormitories to supposedly enforce social distancing measures.

“I don’t understand why they need to put up fences to keep us safe from the virus. It makes us feel like they don’t trust us, it feels like they’re locking us in our rooms,” one student said.

Hundreds of students protested that night, and eventually tore down the barriers. The university, for its part, initially said that the barriers were erected to “help avoid the mixing of households”, but later apologised and removed any of the remaining structures.

Also on Thursday, hundreds of anti-lockdown protesters attempted to stage a demonstration in London on Guy Fawkes Night. Police, however, instantly broke up the demonstration and chased the protesters through the British capital for the next two hours.

Police arrested 190 people, and one of the organisers is facing the maximum £10,000 fine. Police were also seen threatening journalists and even a Santa Clause impersonator with arrest.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here: @KurtZindulka

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