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Police Slap Restrictions On King Street Protesters

Only ten protesters allowed in 'designated protest area' at city centre Gaza demonstration

Written by . Published on August 22nd 2014.

Police Slap Restrictions On King Street Protesters

POLICE are to impose conditions on pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli demonstrators on King Street following a month of protests.

There shall be no more than ten protestors at any one time and the site for demonstration will be moved to a 'designated protest area' outside an unoccupied business premise on Police Street.

"While we understand that many people are deeply concerned about events in the Middle East, we do not want to see those events affect communities and families here in Manchester."

Since 19 July 2014, Greater Manchester Police have retained a daily presence outside Kedem Cosmetics, after pro-Palestinian protestors began boycotting the store.

Kedem Cosmetics stocks products imported from the Dead Sea area of Israel.

On Wednesday 23 July, a pro-Palestinian protester told Confidential:

"We believe that any money sent to the Israel is a penny against peace in Palestine. That's why we're here today."

A spokesperson for Kedem contacted Confidential with this response:

"We believe that we have been targeted because we sell products which are manufactured in Israel.

"The ingredients are taken from an area of Israel which is Israeli owned and not on disputed territories. Our factory is in Caesarea North of Tel Aviv, which again is an Israeli owned territory and not on disputed territory.

"We are a British limited company employing British and European people."

Protests at the site have mostly been peaceful, however, there have been small pockets of criminality and arrests made as pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli sides clashed.

King Street protestsKing Street protests

A statement released on 22 August 2014 by Greater Manchester Police said:

"We have shown great patience in facilitating the protests but it is the cumulative impact of the daily protests - which is causing significant disruption to the business community on and around King Street and has led to members of our communities experiencing concern, fear and intimidation - that has now exceeded the legal threshold required under the Public Order Act.

"From Saturday 23 August 2014, GMP will be imposing conditions on protestors that will include maximising the number of protestors at any one time to 10, and moving the site to a designated protest area outside an unoccupied business premise on Police Street.

"While this will be enforced daily it will be under constant review." 

Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, Sir Peter Fahy, said: "This is not a decision we have taken lightly. The right to protest is a fundamental part of our democracy, a right fully supported by the police and city council.

"One of Manchester's strengths is its diversity and we know that conflicts around the world often provoke strong emotions within our communities. It is only right and proper that people can protest about what is happening abroad safely and peacefully should they wish to. 

Sir Peter Fahy: Sir Peter Fahy: "We have shown great patience"

"We will continue to work with civic and faith leaders and with local community groups to ensure that the important issues behind the current Middle East conflicts can be properly debated in the city in a way that does not cause serious disruption or endanger community cohesion.

"Protests such as this, which polarise views, are emotive and present difficult challenges for all involved. While we will not shy away from these challenges, we have to balance our duty to uphold the rights of protestors against the rights of the public visiting and working in the city centre, local business owners and residents.

"Weighing up all factors, we hope that by imposing these conditions we are finding some common ground and ensuring fairness to everybody. It is important to stress that failure to comply with the conditions is a criminal offence and could result in arrest."

King Street protestsKing Street protests

Councillor Bernard Priest, Manchester City Council's deputy leader, said: "While we understand that many people are deeply concerned about events in the Middle East, we do not want to see those events affect communities and families here in Manchester.

"Our city has a proud history of tolerance and mutual respect between different communities, and we cannot stand by and watch divisions and tensions be created.

"We have tried to protect people's right to protest but these demonstrations have had an impact on people who have absolutely nothing to do with events in the Middle East. Shops on Kings Street, as well as members of the public who are trying to go about their day to day business, have been affected by the protests and unfortunately we have now had to place some limited restrictions on the protests to manage the impact on the daily lives of ordinary citizens."

The restrictions will apply from Saturday 23 August 2014.

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