Anti-lockdown protesters chant ‘take off your masks’ in march through Manchester streets

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Crowds marched through Manchester city centre, accusing MPs who voted for the lockdown of treason and urging people to "free your faces" and remove their masks

Thousands of anti-lockdown protesters have taken to the streets against the national lockdown.

Huge crowds marched through Manchester city centre, accusing MPs who voted for the lockdown of treason.

Many held placards of anti-lockdown slogans, with one reading “Fear is the currency of control” while some chanted “take off your masks”, witnesses claimed.

A video circulating on social media showed a man on a megaphone addressing the crowd with chants of “freedom, freedom, freedom” ringing through the streets.

He said: “Those 300-plus politicians that voted for the lockdown are treasonous.”

The comment prompted cheering from those in the crowd.

Another man urged people to share videos of the event on social media, reports the Manchester Evening News.

Huge crowds gathered in Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester City Centre (Image: Kerry Elsworth/LNP)

“From this day forward, it will be for every single one of us to be brave,” he said.

Greater Manchester Police said they had spoken to the organiser of the protest to explain it was illegal under current coronavirus lockdown laws.

In a statement they said: “Prior to this gathering, officers engaged with the organiser; explained the restrictions; and encouraged compliance and are continuing to do so.

“Under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, a Section 34 Dispersal Order has been authorised for Manchester City Centre until 6.45pm today (Sunday 8 November 2020). This means members of the public must not gather in the area. Failure to comply is a criminal offence.

“GMP would also like to use this opportunity to remind members of the public that, under the national Covid-19 restrictions, gatherings of more than two people are unlawful.

“We encourage people to comply with these restrictions, as we have throughout this public health crisis, to help keep themselves and others safe.”

The protests come days after similar scenes in London where crowds of anti-lockdown protesters and so-called ‘Million Mask March’ demonstrators attempted to swarm Trafalgar Square in Westminster in the political heart of London.

Hundreds marched through the streets of central London on the day England was plunged into a second nationwide coronavirus lockdown.

Protesters, very few wearing face coverings, began to walk up the famous Strand shortly after 6pm, chanting “freedom” and “no more lockdown”.

Piers Corbyn, elder brother of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and prominent conspiracy theorist, was pictured at the protest.

Followed closely by a large number of officers from both the City of London and Metropolitan Police forces, protesters were repeatedly ordered to go home, with one officer shouting at a group: “You are breaking the law.”

Four protesters, one of whom was wearing a Guy Fawkes mask, were arrested by police officers near the gates of Charing Cross Station.

Videos posted on social media show police pushing protesters back towards the nearby rail station.

Police officers urged demonstrators to go home as they took to the streets near Trafalgar Square on Thursday evening, warning those who had gathered they were breaching coronavirus restrictions.

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