Greater Manchester Police are actively attempting to criminalise pro-Palestinian protest in Manchester. In the three weeks since the end of their ban on the regular Saturday picket of Marks and Spencer in Market Street Manchester, they have:
On 22 Jan seized two placards because they had ‘Victory to the Intifada’ written on them;
On all occasions allowed Zionists to hound, abuse and harass picketers with impunity claiming that this was acceptable behaviour on a public demonstration
The Picket, which calls for a boycott of M&S because of the store’s political and financial support for the Israeli state, has taken place weekly since the start of the Intifada in September 2000. Chief Constable Michael Todd banned the picket for a period of five weeks over Christmas and New Year under Section 14 of the Public Order Act, a ban which is now subject to Judicial Review. Nine people were arrested on 4 December when they attempted to continue the protest. GMP actions since then show that they have dropped any pretence at impartiality.
On Saturday 15 January Sergeant Redfern of GMP seized a Palestinian flag from the Picket on the grounds that she found the flag 'offensive'. She also broke one flag pole and seized a second. She offered no explanation as to the power under which she was taking this action. This last Saturday, police arbitrarily removed two placards from the Picket following a complaint from a Zionist counter protester, on the grounds that the words 'Victory to the Intifada' was 'an incitement to racial hatred'. This is nonsense: the picket has always stood against all forms of racism, and placards with this slogan have been present at every picket over the last four years. But the police are now acting as Zionist censors, and are trying to prevent lawful protest in support of the Palestinian people.
We demand an end to this censorship, and an end to the attempt to criminalise lawful protest in support of the Palestinian people.
Contact Press Officer on 07816547066 for further information.