No rest for protest: Palestine supporters stand united despite Manchester council sleep-out ban

Pro-Palestine protestors have vowed to carry on with their campaign to support the thousands of people left homeless by the Gaza conflict – despite Manchester Council imposing a sleep-out ban.

The Manchester Palestine Action group staged their last sleep-out on Monday night after days of camping on King Street in the city centre.

They were sleeping rough in support of the 108,000 people who have been left homeless due to the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

And the protesters, who received a letter from the council telling them their protest was ‘beyond legitimate’, took to their Facebook page to post a video.

In it group members perform the Palestinian Dabke while taking the time to thank those who had helped over the past week.

They said: “This was the finale of the sleep-out for Gaza’s homeless. Other activities there included several film and poetry showings, an evening of music and several people doing the #RubbleBucketChallenge. The intrepid campers were well looked after by others who couldn’t sleep but brought food, hot water and other supplies.

“MPA is looking forward to planning more and more diverse, creative and inspirational actions in the weeks and months to come.”

In a previous letter, Fiona Worrall, head of Neighbourhood Delivery Growth and Neighbourhood for Manchester Council, underlined the council’s discomfort with the group’s style of protest.

She wrote: “Whilst the city council recognises that people have the right to protest, it is the city council’s belief that this camp goes beyond legitimate protest.

“Furthermore the camp takes up the whole of the footway on the corner of King Street and Police Street and as a result pedestrians are required to walk in the roadway.”

Manchester Palestine Action hit back at the council’s claims that their vigil was a safety hazard for pedestrians.

ENDLESS FIGHT: Pro-Palestine protestors vow to continue their efforts despite the sleep-out ban

In a letter dated September 6, the pro-Palestine group’s reply back to the city council in defence read: “Claims have been made to our obstruction of public footpath; though, Police Street and King Street are both pedestrianised areas and the vehicular traffic is minimal.

“The pavement currently in use by our vigil is adjacent to an unoccupied store premises and therefore does not directly obstruct or inconvenience pedestrians or shoppers (who tend to walk in the street area).

“In a bid to control our legitimate right to directly protest at the bottom of King Street, it was made clear to us on many occasions that, under the terms of the Section 14 order delivered by Greater Manchester Police to protesters, the area on the corner of Police Street and King Street was being designated as a protest site.

“On that basis, a decision was taken to set up a vigil in solidarity with the homeless of Gaza for one week starting Monday September 1.”

Both sides have proposed to meet each other to discuss the future of the pro-Palestine action group, though the campaigners are set to take this chance as an opportunity to question the council’s alleged pro- Israel stance.

Manchester Palestine Action carried onto write: “We welcome the opportunity to meet with you as head of the Neighbourhood Delivery Team, the Council Leader Sir Richard Leese and other representatives of MCC, and GMP.

“This will be to facilitate the discussion of exercising our democratic right of protest in the city, whilst also raising our grave concerns relating to the lack of council impartiality, and the police reaction which we consider unjustifiable and unlawful in certain instances.”

Images courtesy of Facebook, with thanks

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