‘Fear Is the Currency of Control’: Anti-Lockdown Protests Erupt Across the UK

BRISTOL, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 14: Protesters hold placards during the anti-lockdown protest on November 14, 2020 in Bristol, England. Police had warned protesters to cancel the march or face possible fines. Throughout the covid-19 pandemic, there have been recurring, if modest, protests across England against lockdown restrictions and other rules …
Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images

Police squared off with hundreds of anti-lockdown protesters in Bristol and Liverpool as resentment spreads throughout the country against Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s draconian coronavirus restrictions.

On Saturday, mass demonstrations organised by the anti-lockdown group Stand Up X were held across the country in response to the decision to place England under a second national lockdown by the Conservative Party government.

Police in Bristol said that they arrested 14 protesters and police in Liverpool arrested a further 16.

“We recognise the right to freedom of expression but protests aren’t currently allowed,” Bristol Police wrote on social media, adding: “COVID-19 is deadly and the restrictions are in place to prevent its spread. We continue to urge people to go home.”

Ominously, the police force went on to warn that “CCTV and specialist evidence gatherers are recording the protest” — meaning that more arrests and fines are likely to be inflicted upon those who gathered. Penalties for breaching the restrictions start with a £200 fine, but those found to have organised mass gatherings are subject to a £10,000 fine.

In Liverpool, police said: “Unfortunately a small number of selfish and irresponsible individuals have chosen to gather in the city centre today, putting their families, the public and our staff at risk from this global pandemic. We have so far, made 16 arrests for public order and breach of coronavirus regulations.”

The authorities have tended to be less robust in their condemnation of Black Lives Matter protests in recent months, however.

One Bristol protester named Xara told the local news outlet Bristol Live: “The rules to people who are enlightened don’t matter. We don’t care and we will not be slaves to the system. End of.”

“To stop local businesses is an absolute disgrace. It’s abominable. And we are not having it. We are all standing together to say this is crap and we think it’s a pantomime,” Xara said.

“We will not put anyone’s lives or health safety at risk, ever. People who have underlying health issues or people who are ill, obviously we would never go near them. But people who are healthy, we can do our thing,” she concluded.

Last Sunday, hundreds of anti-lockdown protesters took to the streets of Manchester, marching under the banner of ‘Rise Up Manchester’.

The protest followed a rebellion at the University of Manchester by students, who tore down “prison-like” metal fences that the university’s managers had erected around dormitories in order to enforce social distancing rules.

“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.

Earlier this month, hundreds took to the streets of London to protest against the lockdown. Police were quick to shut down the demonstration, however, and spent the next few hours chasing the rebellious Londoners through the streets of the capital.

Police were seen threatening journalists and even a Santa Claus impersonator with arrest for being present at the event. Ultimately, 190 were arrested for breaching the COVID-19 restrictions and the organiser of the protest is facing a £10,000 fine.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here: @KurtZindulka

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