Police officer punched and protester pepper sprayed at Sunday’s anti-lockdown protest
It all kicked off in Millennium Square
Sunday’s anti-lockdown protest in Millennium Square turned nasty when protesters tried to prevent an arrest, resulting in a police officer getting punched.
The event began peacefully and was attended by around 200 people including anti-lockdown protesters, anti-vaccination groups and far-right activists.
Organisers made speeches and there was even a really cringey musical performance.
Police attended the event, deemed that it wasn’t Covid-secure, and decided to take action.
A spokesperson for West Yorkshire Police told The Leeds Tab: “The organisers made no attempt to make the event Covid-secure and as such the protest was in breach of public health regulations. Officers were deployed to engage with the protesters and attempt to ensure they complied with social distancing measures.
“The organisers refused to ensure any social distancing was complied with and as such officers attempted to issue fixed penalty notices to three individuals who refused to give details and as a result were arrested under public health legislation.”
As the arrests were being made, protesters surrounded the police while onlookers at The Cuthbert Brodrick Wetherspoons booed and chanted.
Tensions escalated when the officers attempted to put the arrested individuals into the back of police vans.
The police spokesperson continued: “Some of the protesters attempted to obstruct the arrest and an officer was punched which resulted in incapacitant spray being used. Those arrested were later released on police bail.
“West Yorkshire Police fully acknowledges the importance of lawful protests and demonstrations, but these have to be balanced against current legislation which is in place to protect the health and safety of the public during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“There are restrictions on protests, which include completing risk assessments to ensure such events do not contribute to the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, we urge protest organisers to engage fully with the police at the earliest opportunity so appropriate assessments can be made.”