Eighteen arrested after protesters block tram lines, police say

Eleanor Barlow, PA
·2-min read

Eighteen people have been arrested after protesters blocked tram lines in Manchester, police said.

The Kill the Bill protest – held on Saturday to demonstrate against the Government’s new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill – was described as “largely peaceful” by Greater Manchester Police.

A force spokesman said by 4pm the majority of the crowd had left, but some of those who remained sat on the Metrolink line in St Peter’s Square, causing “significant disruption” to transport networks.

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After repeated prior warnings from officers, police moved in to remove those obstructing the tram lines and arrested a total of 18 people, the spokesman said.

Footage and pictures from earlier in the afternoon showed protesters marching through the city centre and taking the knee in front of a mural of George Floyd.

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.”