Over the past few months, Mancunians have witnessed several protests and marches against child abuse.
The hashtag #SaveOurChildren has also been popping up across social media platforms.
But what really is this movement about?
If the past five years have revealed anything about British and American politics, it is that the establishment can no longer hold society together.
The latest symptom of the political centre collapsing has been the rise of conspiracy theories- and Manchester is not immune to this.
The group responsible for organizing these protests is the Manchester chapter of Freedom For The Children UK.
FFTC was first established in the United States in June and opened up shop in the UK not long after.
They have long been associated with QAnon, the conspiracy movement which believes that the world is governed by an elite cabal of paedophiles.
According to Lee Curtis, FFTCUK Manchester’s leader, the aim of these protests is to draw attention to “missing children”.
They want mainstream media to report for the “missing children” and Mr Curtis says that on average, 308 children go missing every day in the UK.
However, official figures show it’s a little less than that.
According to the National Crime Agency’s Missing Persons Data Report 2018/2019, a total of 75,918 were reported missing during these years.
That would mean an average of 208 children every day.
What is more important is that in 98 per cent of the cases, no harm was reported and 80 per cent of the children were found within 24 hours.
While the supporters of FFTCUK don’t openly promote the QAnon theory, it is possible to find QAnon slogans, theories and jargon used by them on their Facebook pages.
Facebook is the main form of dissemination for both FFTCUK as well as QAnon.
In a move to fight misinformation and harm caused by the QAnon conspiracy theory, Facebook decided at the start of October 2020 to ban QAnon themed groups.
However, as FFTCUK is not an organisation that openly supports QAnon, they avoided a ban. To be admitted to the private group one has to agree to keep the group ‘free from any discussion regarding Qanon, politics and pizzagate’.
It would be an exaggeration to state that members of FFTCUK all believe in QAnon conspiracy theories.
However, a look through the Facebook profiles of Lee Curtis and Laura Ward, the UK coordinator of FFTC, shows you that they might well be.
On his Facebook, Mr. Curtis liked a comment left on one of his posts that read, “WWG1WGA”, a reference to the QAnon slogan of “Where We Go One, We Go All”.
Miss Ward has reposted an image on her Face-book of a protestor holding up a sign that has the words “#PizzaGate #Adrenochrome #Pe-doWood” on it; all referencing QAnon conspiracies.
Mr Curtis seems genuinely concerned about child abuse in powerful organisations like the BBC and talks about real cases of child abuse that were committed by ex-BBC employees like Jimmy Savile and Dave Lee Travis.
The grooming gangs that have long dominated the news cycle have also found mention in the FFTCUK protests.
At a protest in front of BBC’s Quay House on October 10, the name of Victoria Agoglia was mentioned.
Agoglia was a 15-year-old girl who died after being forcibly injected with heroin by a grooming gang member in South Manchester.
Mayor Andy Burnham had commissioned a report into this case earlier this year.
Ultimately, these conspiracy theories reveal a deep mistrust in public institutions and ordinary members of FFTCUK can easily be drawn to-wards extremes, whenever they feel like public institutions are failing them by siding with the powerful.