Crowds of passers-by couldn't believe the over-the-top police response, and challenged the actions of police, surrounded & blocked police vehicles, and helped pass out leaflets while police were trying to confiscate them off the stalls.
People were arrested & cautioned on "wilful obstruction", while everyone could see that the real obstruction was being caused by the police!
Here's part of the text of the leaflet that was handed out to explain what was going on:
We're famous in Liverpool for our fighting, our campaigning, our caring. And we care about a lot. You don't have to agree with the cause but you ought to agree with the right to free speech about it. Today though, campaigners – scousers - are being chased out of the city centre, their voices silenced. And it's being done in your name. People giving out information, raising petitions, setting up stalls, talking to people(!) about issues they passionately care about are being moved on, shut down, threatened, their details taken, arrested, charged and tried in the courts.
Are you going to let it happen? Happen to you?
POLICE AND COUNCIL LIES
The police say they are only doing their duty but when no crime is being committed, haven't they got better things to do? They say the Council wants rid of us, the city's on the up, caring is so not now. The Council say it defends free speech and only cares about littering and people being bothered. Because you don't care? We don't think so. But the City Safe wardens go on bullying and harassing campaigners. So who's telling the truth? They're both lying! To the police and the council we're a statistic, people to get rid of, like the homeless or those who've had too much. Hide them away, chase them away and tick the box that says 'job well
done'. And whose box is it? The big shopowners and landlords, that's who!
PRIVATE PLACES ARE PROTEST-FREE
Let's face it, protesters sell no phones, no chi-chi skirts, no lattes, no Big Macs. And even two or three take up space that could be used for selling. It's not enough we stand in public spaces, outside derelict shops or in wide streets for a few hours on saturdays. The vast amounts of money being spent (wasted?) on prettifying the city centre for out-of-towners is being controlled by private landlords like Grosvenor, Downings and Bruntwood, by stores like M&S, Carphone Warehouse and MacDonalds. And Liverpool streets that used to be public places for conversation and civic
space are now outdoor malls patrolled by the store police, who used to be your police.
PROFIT BEFORE FREE SPEECH
The city centre is increasingly a big machine for making money, whether you're a developer, landlord or store owner. It's a machine that needs money, even money people can't afford to spend. And nothing must get in the way of spending. The police, the council, the landlords, owners and regeneration agencies sit in their well-appointed offices up there above the river, deciding how best to keep the wheels turning, the money flowing, your money. And the most precious thing of all, free speech in a free society?
Where's the profit in that?
THERE'S A CAREER IN CLAMPDOWNS
So why do they do it? Are they really so bad? Well, the Chief Constable of Merseyside is in the running for the top job in London. He has to keep people sweet so they'll write him a good reference. Council officers get promoted by doing as they're told and councillors keep their jobs – well paid nowadays – by keeping the important people sweet and the rest of us quiet. So when government comes to town they can point ho well they are running the city, your city, a city that used to care.
Juries are increasingly accepting that 'unlawful' protest – against war, climate change, airport expansion and a host of other issues – have a point and a right to campaign. But not in Liverpool they haven't. Even legal campaigns and protesters are being pushed around and arrested, jackboot style. But the Council is 'your' Council. The police are 'your' police. The city is 'your' city. If campaigning is outlawed, not by the law but by the misuse of the law, what will you do when schools are threatened, care cut back, parks taken away, crimes unpunished, racial hatred grows or wars explode? Write a letter to the Echo?