Andy Burnham has demanded a ‘full explanation’ from Greater Manchester Police over the arrest of a protester that left her exposed in her underwear.
Eighteen people were arrested in total during a ‘Kill the Bill’ demonstration in the city centre on Saturday evening.
Police had allowed protesters to march in a large group and give speeches denouncing the government’s new legislation that critics say would restrict the right to protest.
But riot cops moved in when a small group sat down and blocked tram lines in St Peter’s Square.
Campaigners complained that officers used heavy-handed tactics, pushing and dragging people out of the area.
And images of the arrest of a young woman have provoked particular outrage on social media.
The woman was dragged away, her jeans were pulled down leaving her exposed in just her underwear.
Greater Manchester Police drag woman to police van half naked.
One officer showed his human side and made attempts to pull her jeans back up, but not before the scene was captured by a number of photographers.
The Mayor Andy Burnham was tagged in the photo by another Twitter user called Mike who asked: “I do hope you’ll be doing something about this Andy.”
Tonight the Mayor replied: “I am Mike. I have started by asking Greater Manchester Police to provide a full explanation of what happened.”
Police have since defended their decision to break up the protesters, after claims that the group refused to comply with instructions asking them to move away from the area.
Their response was backed by the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham and his deputy Bev Hughes.
“GMP had to manage a challenging situation carefully and we did not see a repeat of scenes seen in other parts of the country recently,” they said in a statement.
This morning (Tuesday), police have issued a statement vowing to launch an ‘urgent review’ into the arrest.
The force added that the pictures of the woman ‘make for uncomfortable viewing’.
A GMP spokesperson said: “We are aware of the videos and images of a woman partially exposed when being arrested following Saturday’s protest in the city centre, which make for uncomfortable viewing.
“An urgent review is underway to establish circumstances and an update will follow in due course.”
In a statement issued on Monday, GMP said six of those arrested were released under investigation, six were handed fixed penalty notices and five others accepted cautions.
A boy of 17 ‘is being dealt with by the youth offending service’.
Saturday’s protest began in St Peter’s Square and had remained ‘largely peaceful’ and ‘contained’ according to GMP.
Around 150 demonstrators marched through to Piccadilly Gardens, before arriving at Stevenson Square. As they walked chants of ‘kill the bill’ and ‘our streets’ could be heard. Read more
It comes after protesters in Bristol on Friday became involved in violent clashes with police after a similar ‘Kill the Bill’ protest.
Bristol Kill the Bill
Daily Mirror journalist Matthew Dresch shared video footage that appeared to show police pushing him and hitting him with a baton as he shouted that he was a member of the press.
“Police assaulted me at the Bristol protest even though I told them I was from the press. I was respectfully observing what was happening and posed no threat to any of the officers,” he said.
Twitter users described the incident as outrageous and appalling.
Avon and Somerset police tweeted: “We’re aware of a video showing a journalist being confronted by officers during last night’s protest in Bristol. We’re making efforts to contact him. A free press is a cornerstone of our democracy and we fully respect the media’s vital role in reporting events fairly & accurately.”
Labour MP Nadia Whittome called for an investigation into the policing of the demonstrations.
“Reports of protesters and journalists injured last night in Bristol. The case for an independent investigation into the policing of the Bristol protests is clear,” she tweeted.
In an open letter, Labour candidates in the city joined calls for a full and independent investigation, saying they were “deeply concerned about the videos circulating on social media which appear to show police using excessive force against protesters”.
“Of particular concern are the reports of multiple journalists being intimidated and in some cases assaulted by the police. We condemn all violence. These scenes are chilling and should be of great concern to anyone who cares about civil liberties, regardless of views on the police, crime, sentencing and courts bill or the demands of the protests.”
Credits: Steve RobsonAshlie BlakeyNews reporter
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