Canal Street brawl: Open letter calls for ‘zero-tolerance’ on homophobia as police probe possible hate crime

Greater Manchester Police must take a ‘zero-tolerance’ stance to hate crime, according to an open letter written following a late night brawl in the Gay Village.

Police were called to the Village at 11.10pm on August 17 after CCTV operators captured a number of men fighting on Canal Street.

Five people were arrested at the scene, which police are investigating to see if it was a hate crime.

Two have been released without charge and the other three have been bailed pending further enquiries.  

Ahead of Pride’s Big Weekend, one Manchester resident has written an open letter following the incident, which many are claiming was a hate crime.

Carl Howard wrote: “This is Manchester, not Moscow. We need a zero tolerance approach for hate crimes of any kind and Greater Manchester Police needs more than a rainbow-painted police car to show they’re serious about tackling the hatred many in our community regularly face.”

Chief Inspector Gareth Parkin explained that the CCTV recovered shows a large scale disturbance involving a number of men but was keen to stress that it was not yet clear whether there was any homophobia involved.

“What remains unclear is what the catalyst for this incident was,” he said.

“There are rumours circulating on social media that this was a hate incident and this is what we have been told third or fourth hand, however we need a first person account from someone who was a victim of a homophobic incident in order to record it as such. 

“That said, it in no way detracts from the investigation that we will be doing to identify and bring to account those responsible for such ugly scenes. 

“I want to reassure local businesses and residents, who live, reside or socialise in the gay village that we are treating this extremely seriously. 

“With Pride just around the corner the focus on the gay village should be a positive one and we are working to ensure the weekend passes off peacefully, without incident and we are hoping that everyone coming to the event has a great time. 

“It goes without saying that incidents such as those witnessed last night are not welcome and will not be tolerated and if anyone has any information about what happened or those responsible I would urge them to get in touch.”

Mr Howard’s open has already been widely circulated on social media. 

He wrote: “In an ideal world, we wouldn’t need a gay village or pride events; but this isn’t an ideal world, not yet anyway. So we created a safe space in the heart of the city, the Gay Village, where anyone – gay, straight or undecided – can be free to be themselves without fear of persecution. Then, in the name of integration and equality, we extend a welcome to those from outside our community and this is what happens.

“I’m a gay man and I’m PROUD of it, that’s why it’s called Pride, and to anyone who asks why in 2014 we still need to march, carry banners, make such a fuss and why there isn’t a ‘straight pride’, just be thankful you don’t need one.”

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