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Sir Peter Fahy: Response To King Street Protests

Chief Constable on the pro-Israeli pro-Palestinian clashes outside Kedem

Published on August 5th 2014.

Sir Peter Fahy: Response To King Street Protests

GMP CHIEF Constable Sir Peter Fahy has called on King Street protesters to 'consider their position' as the protests continue to have a detrimental effect on businesses in the area.

"We as an organisation have to balance the powers we have to impose certain conditions on where people can protest and for how long with that fundamental democratic right to protest."

For nearly three weeks there have been protests and clashes outside the Kedem Cosmetics store on King Street between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli supporters.

The store, which stocks products imported from around the Dead Sea in Israel, has been boycotted by pro-Palestinian supporters, with pro-Israeli supporters turning out from Wednesday 23 July to protect the store.

One Palestinian sympathiser told Confidential at the protest on Wednesday 23 July: "We believe that any money sent to the Israel is a penny against peace in Palestine. That's why we're here today."

Kedem responded with a statement, telling Confidential: 

"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."

Sir Peter FahySir Peter Fahy

Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy released this statement on Monday 4 August:

"The protests in Manchester city centre over the last few weeks have placed Greater Manchester Police in the invidious and difficult position of being stuck in the middle trying to find a solution for all parties.

"The protests have also highlighted a very real issue about how best to strike that delicate balance between the right to protest and the potential damage to the residential and business community in the city centre and whether there are other means for people to express what are clearly very strong and emotional views rather than targeting one individual shop.

"Greater Manchester Police completely respects everyone’s right to lawful protest. It is the fundamental right of anyone in a democratic society to express their views through protest and we as a police force are committed to facilitating these demonstrations.

"Understandably, the situation in Gaza has provoked strong emotions among communities here in Greater Manchester which has resulted in almost daily protests by pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian supporters in Manchester city centre. We are now facing the very real prospect of tensions in another part of the world spilling onto the streets of Manchester and that poses a risk to community cohesion.

"Protests, by their very nature, can often result in a certain amount of tension and disturbance as people express strong views and emotions are heighted. While protest is a human right those involved should recognise the effect these protests have. But we must also recognise the affect these protests are having on the wider community living and working in the city centre and the disruption caused to local businesses.

"We as an organisation have to balance the powers we have to impose certain conditions on where people can protest and for how long with that fundamental democratic right to protest. We must always be asking ourselves in what circumstances the law actually allows us to impose these powers and whether or not it will either improve the situation or make it worse. We constantly keep this under review but I would say that experience has taught us that the best way to manage demonstrations is through negotiation and dialogue with the protestors, and I must stress that my officers have done a good job in challenging circumstances.

“There is a strong history of protest in Manchester but also a history of people from different races and religions respecting their differences and living peacefully alongside one another. We want, and encourage, healthy debate but the experience from past events is that tension in other parts of the world allow some to justify attacks against individuals, businesses or places of worship and this has affected various minority communities. In the instance of this protest, it is not a good thing that one particular businesses has become a focal point for the protest to the detriment of their business and other businesses in that area.

"We would ask all concerned to consider their position and whether there are other ways to express what are understandably very strong views and recognise the longer term risk to the wider community.

“Officers are monitoring closely the activities of those involved in this protest and will fully investigate anyone we suspect is breaching the criminal law." 

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EDITORIALAugust 7th 2014.

I'm afraid that, although many of you have made reasoned and valid points, in line with our 'Rant Policy' we've had to disable comments on this article as some were just plain idiotic. Ed.

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