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Thousands of protestors sit on the tram line

Police accused of 'shoving and kicking' protestors at 'Kill The Bill' protest in city centre

  • 18 protestors were arrested by GMP officers
  • Trams and buses came to a halt at St Peter's Square and Piccadilly Gardens
  • One video shows a young woman being carried to a police van with her jeans pulled down

Legal observers at Manchester’s ‘Kill The Bill’ protest yesterday (Saturday) said police became "heavy handed" with protestors after tram lines were blocked at St Peter’s Square. 

Protestors staged a sit in on the tram lines at the second Manchester protest against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, the first taking place last Saturday. The bill has been delayed due to opposition from lobbying activists. 

After one hour of blocking the tram line, police intervened and started walking towards protestors to force them to disperse. Police repeatedly shouted "move back", and those who did not move faced arrest. There was a heavier police presence around the city centre than was seen at the first 'Kill The Bill' protest on 20 March.

A convoy of three police vans drive to the Piccadilly Gardens sit in
A convoy of three police vans drive to the Piccadilly Gardens sit-in. Photo by: Georgina Randall

There has been outrage among protestors and social media users who saw pictures of protestors being carried away by GMP officers. One of these images circulating Twitter is of a young girl with her jeans pulled down. 

One of the arrested protestors Ve, is a 19-year-old student in Manchester.

They attended both Manchester protests “because it [the proposed bill] effectively takes away our right to protest.

"My life and happiness depend on rights won by protest. The 40 hour working week, the end of child labour, education and the vote for me as an afab [assigned female at birth]. My right to marriage and freedom from discrimination as a lesbian," they said.

Ve said a group of protestors hung on at the end and sat on the tram tracks "sharing stories and building community by talking. Trams drove right up to us - almost threateningly.

"One guy said that he felt safer there than he ever had done near police, and another girl shared her experience of sexual abuse. Then maybe 100 police officers rounded the corner."

Ve claimed police kicked out at and shoved protestors and that one woman ended up under a stationery tram.

"There were two people sat next to me on my right, one of them was arrested and so was I. Me and my friend were holding hands thinking we're not going to move, then an officer kicked me in the shin and I have a bruise," they said.

They also received a cut to their leg
Ve also received a cut to their leg. Photo: Ve

"A particularly traumatic thing happened when they picked up a girl who was sitting near me by her arms and legs. This pulled her top up and her trousers came down. They carried her like that, and I got so angry. I started saying ‘shame on you’, and other people were shouting at the police too.

"Two police officers grabbed my arms, but I ran out of their grip because my jacket was unzipped, they only had a grip on my jacket. I ran in between the trams and away from the police.

"I saw them take my friend who had been sitting next to me away." 

VID-20210328-WA0009 from Northern Quota on Vimeo.

GMP have since put out a response, supporting the officers' actions on the day:

"GMP had to manage a challenging situation carefully and we did not see a repeat of scenes seen in other parts of the country recently," they said in a statement.

Ve voiced concerns over what would happen if stipulations from the bill are put into practice, such as police-imposed noise and time rules for protests.

“If we lose our right to protest, there is no knowing how many more people this government will harm,” they said.

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