‘Outrageous’: Councillor likens pro-Palestine protests aimed at Manchester shops to riots of 2011

A Manchester councillor has slammed pro-Palestine protesters as ‘outrageous’ and likened their targeting of shops linked to Israel as being like the riots that rocked the city three years ago.

Demonstrators gathered on Market Street to condemn the harassment of staff at shops including H&M and Schuh, which protesters claim are affiliated with Israel and should be boycotted due to the Gaza conflict.

Amongst those outside the shops were city Councillors Kevin Peel and Pat Karney, who held signs labelled ‘Stand Up For Shop Workers’.

Cll Peel likened the incidents to those that occurred three years ago during the riots which struck the city centre.

“We’ve had staff come to us and say ‘are they going to hurt us?’, because they don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said.

“It’s completely outrageous. You’re talking about teenagers on minimum wage in most cases and they are being harassed by these professional protesters who have no links whatsoever to the cause in which they’re protesting.

“I think their efforts would be better spent elsewhere and not putting the fear of god into shop workers from Manchester.”

Employees of both H&M and Schuh were also present at the demonstration and voiced their concerns about the protestors.

Jack Maxwell, 20, of Bury, who works at Schuh on Market Street said: “[The protesters] come into the shop and make a lot of fuss.

“It makes it hard to do my job, it intimidates customers. We have to lock [customers] in the shop and we’ve had police outside as well.

“They chant Schuh Schuh shame on you, because we sell one brand of shoes that has links to Israel, but we sell hundreds of brands.”

The demonstration comes in the wake of a week of unrest on the streets of Manchester as King Street Jewish owned shop Kedem has faced opposition from pro-Palestine protestors.

Several senior figures have criticised the demonstrations outside the shop, with Sir Richard Leese sensationally comparing the protests to Nazi Germany.

However, Palestine protestors have refuted claims they are anti-Sematic as the Boycott Kedem movement continued to stage protests outside the shop.

Cllr Peel believes more needs to be done to protect staff and residents of the city as people not affiliated with the dispute get involved.

“Basically, now it’s become a catch all and you’ve got groups coming from all over the place who just like the protest,” he said.

“The police are talking about up to 1,000 people this weekend in the protest and counter protest which is going to cause absolute chaos on King Street.

“We would like to see the police be a bit more proactive in stopping people breaking the law basically.”

Image courtesy of Kevin Peel, with thanks

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