A Worldwide Freedom Protest (or Freedom Parade as it is also being termed) which took place in the centre of Leeds on Saturday, 24 July 2021, has largely passed off peacefully, with only two arrests.
From the website for the event, it was organised as a protest against the reduction of :
• Freedom of Speech
• Freedom of Movement
• Freedom of Choice
• Freedom of Assembly
• Freedom of Health
West Yorkshire Police has said the vast majority of those attending did so in a peaceful fashion, but described the actions of a very small minority as unacceptable after a police officer was injured.
Over 1,000 people including families and people from various groups attended the demonstration which began at about 1pm outside Leeds Town Hall.
A policing operation was in place, and officers facilitated a safe march by protesters on a route through the city centre culminating on Park Square.
One officer was assaulted during the protest receiving minor injuries.
A man was arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer and a woman was also arrested for refusing to comply with a direction to leave the area. The woman arrested for failure to comply to a direction was later released without charge.
The event started outside Leeds Town Hall with some addresses to the crowd, although the sound system made them difficult to hear.
They then moved to march down the Headrow. West Yorkshire has a prescribed route for marches that covers many of the busy areas, so giving visibility to an event. The march didn’t have a defined route, making it more difficult for the event to policed, and those taking part to know where they were going.
The march looped through the city centre, and then down towards the market, before congregating outside the BBC studios for a number of minutes. It then continued back down the Headrow, passing the Town Hall to Park Square.
Two videos from the day, these are 360 videos, so you can scroll around them. Ideally, view on a desktop or tablet at 4K.
The policing operation concluded at 4.30pm with normality returning to the city centre.
T/Assistant Chief Constable Scott Bisset who commanded the operation said:
The aim of today’s operation was to facilitate protestors legitimate right to peaceful protest while minimising disruption to businesses and shoppers in the centre of Leeds.
West Yorkshire Police is very experienced at policing demonstrations and had a dynamic policing plan in place to manage the event knowing a very diverse group of people and groups may attend.
While the vast majority of the crowd were peaceful a small, and I must emphasise small minority, were not.
An officer was assaulted and while their injuries were fortunately not serious, we condemn the behaviour of those who think it is acceptable to attack emergency workers.
An arrest has been made for the assault. An investigation is underway with a view to prosecuting those responsible.
Thankfully though, the demonstration was in the main peaceful and I would like to express my thanks to the people of Leeds for playing their part in minimising disruption to the city while it was taking place.