Moment police face demonstrators in Manchester city centre

Police were met by demonstrators at the University of Manchester campus
-Credit: (Image: Handover)


This is the moment demonstrators and police met in Manchester city centre. Police were called as Gaza protesters made their way down Oxford Road from Piccadilly Gardens on Monday (May 27) towards University of Manchester buildings.

It followed reports of a group of different - student - protesters 'barricading' various entrances to Whitworth Hall over the Bank Holiday weekend. A large number of police vehicles were pictured along Oxford Road in the centre of the campus at around 8.30pm.

Footage taken by the protesters who earlier gathered at Piccadilly Gardens shows huge crowds, many carrying Palestine flags, banging on the door of the hall chanting 'shame on you'. In the short footage they can be heard chanting 'the people united will never be defeated'.

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Superintendent Nicola Williams of GMP's City of Manchester district said: "We attended a protest in the city centre which started at approximately 5.30pm yesterday in Piccadilly Gardens, travelling via St Peter's Square before heading down Oxford Road.

"The protest for the most part was peaceful; however, the behaviour did escalate with missiles thrown and police equipment stolen. The protest came to a full conclusion at approximately 11pm.

"Crimes of theft and affray now being investigated with enquiries ongoing to determine those responsible. Body worn footage of the attending officers has been reviewed and demonstrates they acted lawfully.

"We will always work with organisers and those exercising their legal right to peaceful protest, but must act where criminal offences are identified."

A University of Manchester spokesperson - speaking about the separate student protests - said officers were called to a demonstration on campus. It involved a 'large group including many who were not students'. Police were on the scene to 'prevent the protesters from gaining unauthorised access to the Whitworth Hall complex'.

In a statement, a University of Manchester spokesperson said: "Over the weekend, a group of students from our University gained unauthorised access to the Whitworth Hall complex. Various entrances and access points have been unlawfully barricaded, and occupiers have broken onto a balcony, which poses significant health and safety risks to the occupiers and others.

"We are in discussions with the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Services about these risks, which go well beyond those we have seen previously. We have written to the individuals occupying the Whitworth Hall complex, requesting that they vacate the premises to allow student exam to proceed as planned. Unfortunately, they have refused.

"As a result, we are now activating our well-established exam contingency plans, but it is deeply disappointing that their actions are directly impacting on what is already, for all those undertaking assessments at present, one of the most intense periods in the academic year. We have emailed all students due to take an exam in the Whitworth Hall of new arrangements and provided updates to Student News.

"We will also have extra marshals to direct students to their new exam locations and will delay the start of those exams to account for this disruption. The duration of the exam will remain unchanged, and we will continue to do everything we can to ensure that the action of this small group does not impact our students further.

"As the University has been clear in the formal notice delivered to them today and in previous formal notices issued to occupiers, the University firmly support students’ rights to freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and peaceful protest. These are fundamental rights that allow for a healthy exchange of ideas.

"However, deliberately disrupting exams clearly violates the standards of behaviour and conduct from students, as outlined in our Student Charter and student disciplinary regulations.