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Hundreds of people marched on the streets of Manchester over the weekend to protest against the national lockdown:
Reports suggest that around 600 people turned up to the event on Sunday (8 November) with many of the campaigners carrying placards bearing slogans such as 'Fight for Freedom', 'No to Lockdown' and 'Real Eyes Realize Real Lies'.
According to Greater Manchester Police, a number of officers were injured, four people were arrested and 24 Fixed Penalty Notices of £200 were issued.
The police are now carrying out investigations to find out who organised the event, as well as trying to get to the bottom of a report that one group of attendees had travelled to Greater Manchester from Cumbria via coach.
Participants chanted 'take off your masks' as well as 'freedom, freedom, freedom' as they marched around the city centre to protest against the national restrictions that are in place until 2 December to fight off the coronavirus.
In a statement, Assistant Chief Constable Mabs Hussain said: "Today (Sunday 8 November 2020), Greater Manchester Police responded to a large gathering in Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester City Centre. At the peak of the gathering, in excess of 600 people were in attendance.
"I would like to use this opportunity to publicly condemn this gathering. Both the organisers and attendees were irresponsible - increasing demand on police who are also responding to calls regarding serious incidents and people who are in immediate danger across Greater Manchester.
"Before and during this gathering, officers followed guidance to engage with the organiser and attendees, explain the restrictions and encourage compliance. Unfortunately, the encouragement was ignored which resulted in officers progressing to enforcement."
Hussain continued: "Under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, officers authorised a Section 34 Dispersal Order. They also arrested four people on suspicion of public order offences and issued 24 £200 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs). Enquiries are ongoing to also issue an FPN to the organiser.
"Enquiries have established that one group of attendees travelled to Greater Manchester from Cumbria via coach. The driver and the company they work for have both been reported to the relevant industry regulator.
"Whilst responding to this gathering, a number of officers were injured. This is unacceptable behaviour towards officers who were simply doing their job and protecting people. Investigators will now work to identify those responsible and ensure they face justice.
"I would also like to remind members of the public that these restrictions are to control the spread of Covid-19 and protect everyone - including you and your loved ones as well as the NHS. I encourage you to do your bit to fight the virus by complying with the restrictions and staying at home."
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