‘I was grabbed from behind’: 18 arrested by police at Manchester Kill The Bill protest
Hundreds took part in continued peaceful Kill The Bill protests through Manchester
18 arrests were made in Manchester on Saturday, as over the weekend hundreds in the city joined people across the country in a series of peaceful Kill The Bill protests.
One arrested, a first year university student, told The Manchester Tab they were “grabbed from behind” before being put in “a painful armlock” despite not resisting. They allege they were then held for four hours in prison “without food or water”.
The protests come following the government’s attempt to pass a new policing bill that would increase police powers and make it harder for people to protest.
The march started in St Peter’s Square on Saturday at 1pm, the historical site of the Peterloo Massacre, before continuing throughout the city centre.
Protestors then began sit-ins blocking roads at Portland Street, Piccadilly Gardens, and Oxford Street.
One protester we spoke to said: “I wasn’t sure if I was going to come until I saw the violence in Bristol.
“They’re tryna take our right to protest away and if that happened anywhere else, the news would be calling it undemocratic.”
For the majority of the protest, the police appeared to allowed it to take place without much intervention.
However, as the protest dispersed around 5pm and just a few protesters were left sitting in front of the tram lines at St Peter’s Square, police began making arrests.
In sharp contrast to the rest of the day, over 60 police officers marched towards the remaining protesters to forcefully remove them.
Police began kicking and pushing protesters sat on the ground before proceeding to make arrests.
Legal observers believe at least 18 arrests were made almost entirely of young people under 21. Greater Manchester Police confirmed 18 arrests were made on Saturday.
Protesters were grabbed and dragged by police.
Arrestees were then reportedly taken as far away as Pendle, Cheadle, and Wigan.
Those we spoke to claim there was no warning given before officers stormed in and began making the arrests. A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Police said police moved in “after repeated prior warnings”.
One of those arrested, a fist year student in Manchester, told The Manchester Tab: “The police came in with barely any warning. First there was the line of police officers who marched through, kicking everyone and knocking people over, and when we were distracted and recovering from the shock of the attack, the second line moved in and made arrests.
“I was grabbed from behind, arrested and put in a painful armlock, despite not resisting at all.
“They held me for nearly four hours in prison without food or water before being released.”
A spokesperson for Grater Manchester Police said: “Eighteen people have been arrested after disruption in Manchester city centre this afternoon [Saturday].
“Police were aware of and were monitoring a largely peaceful and contained group of protestors that had gathered at St. Peter’s Square at around 1pm on Saturday 27 March.
“A majority of the crowd had left by around 4pm but some of those who remained began to sit on the Metrolink line at St Peter’s Square and cause significant disruption to transport networks and members of the public in the city centre.
“After repeated prior warnings from officers, who had positively engaged with those present all afternoon, police moved in and removed those obstructing the tram lines.
“Those who remained and were obstructing the tram lines were moved away by police. A total of 18 people were arrested.”
Chief Superintendent Andy Sidebotham said: “We have been working closely with partners and engaging with those present at the protest all afternoon to avoid any risk or disruption to the wider public in the city centre and today’s event was largely peaceful and without issue.
“However, as the day went on the remaining group caused significant disruption to the public of Greater Manchester. I understand the desire to peacefully protest but by blocking trams this smaller group prevented passengers from travelling to work for essential journeys, including health and care workers. This was clearly unacceptable and, in our duty to serve the public, we could not allow to be tolerated any longer.
“I would like to pay tribute to the patience of the public today whilst we brought this to a conclusion. This importantly comes down to the people of Greater Manchester and a small minority today ultimately caused them a great deal of disruption which required us to step in and bring it to a fair and swift conclusion.”