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Cops presence at Burton Gaza rally causes anger

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: August 16, 2014

  • A VIGIL is to be held in Burton tomorrow for those concerned about the plight of the Palestinians. Led by Paul Walker - Chairman of the Trade Union of Commerce

Comments (9)

PROTESTERS were left angry by the size of police presence at a rally called to gather support for Palestinians caught up in the Gaza conflict.

William Walker, vice chairman of East Staffordshire Trades Council, claimed some of those who attended the gathering the Grail Court Hotel, in Station Street, Burton, felt 'criminalised' at what was intended to be a peaceful vigil.

The event was held for those concerned about the plight of the Palestinians, calling for freedom for the Palestinian people and for an end to all conflict in the area.

However, those who went along were greeted with a police presence outside the hotel and an officer who sat in on the meeting.

Mr Walker said: "Our intention was to hold a peaceful vigil and show support for the victims of the atrocities in Gaza.

"We were greeted by a police sergeant who said they had been contacted over concerns of potential radical behaviour at the meeting.

"We have nothing against the police and we welcome the fact they were there but it was a peaceful meeting. We felt sorry for them because they actually could have been doing something else.

"One member even felt like he was being criminalised."

Gaza has been under siege since 2006 after its residents elected a Hamas government.

Fighting has now intensified between Israel and Hamas.

Mr Walker said: "The rally was successful. We had about 40 to 45 people from sorts of communities.

"We held a discussion about the conflict and want to make people much more aware of what is happening and decide how we are going to go forward.

"We want to hold a much larger rally, raising more awareness."

A spokesman for Staffordshire Police said: "We were aware of the meeting. Police were on regular patrol in the area, but there were no issues and it was all quiet."

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  • d_rankin86  |  August 16 2014, 6:05PM

    Weather is a rumour regarding Mr Andrew that does not interest me personally...I went to the meeting to support people in Gaza...The struggle in GAZA will never end until the blockade is lifted and the Palenstinian people have gained their basic human rights.

  • ianpage123  |  August 16 2014, 5:41PM

    @pointingwest until the police come and say where the information came from it's just rumour or hear say I'm personally sorry for the problems in Gaza and other parts of the world like Russia, Ukraine or Iraq the world seems to have all gone mad. Could I also suggest people should stop trying to score political points because it don't help anyone.

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  • PointingWest  |  August 16 2014, 2:08PM

    It's not rumour, it's first hand evidence as I was at the event and heard the police talking to the organisers.

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  • PointingWest  |  August 16 2014, 2:08PM

    Ian, it wasn't rumour. The police at the event said that "they received a complaint from the MPs office" which constitutes abuse of public office in my most humble of opinions. This won't go away and the truth will out wether the burton mail want to protect him like that have here or fulfil their mandate of being politically neutral as they keep claiming. Innocent peoples lives should NOT be being used as a political football like the MP clearly is attempting.

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  • ianpage123  |  August 16 2014, 12:39PM

    It make's me personally sick very sad what happened in different parts of the world currently Russia, Iraq, Ukraine, Gaza the world does seems to have gone mad ! My thoughts go out to everyone in those parts of the world

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  • AndyBettridge  |  August 16 2014, 12:03PM

    Everyone knows I'm a Labour Party member, who doesn't? But back to the MP, especially in a constituency such as ours, he should have given a statement on Gaza. There's many in the local Islamic community who feel let down by his silence.

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  • ianpage123  |  August 16 2014, 11:18AM

    Andy again it appears you are trying score political points on this story also it appears you support the Labour party I would suggest you stick to facts not rumours it's LIKE me saying I heard from several people that you Andy called the police. STICK to the FACTS because I'm getting sick of these sort of comments.

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  • AndyBettridge  |  August 16 2014, 10:10AM

    And on the subject of our MP, Mr Andrew Griffiths, I have been told by several people that it was him who contacted Police over concerns of radicalism. If this is true he's done himself no favours what so ever. He's already upset many and caused a lot of in the Asian community with refusing to engage with them about what's going on in Gaza. If he has pulled such a stunt, he's probably made things ten times worse for himself. Was he really "concerned" or is the truth that he just trying to scupper a peaceful event?

  • AndyBettridge  |  August 16 2014, 10:01AM

    I want to pay tribute to both William and Paul (both friends) on two parts. First for organising this event. Burton has significant Muslim population so the struggles we are seeing in Gaza will be hard for very many in the town. As Paul once said at a separate meeting we were at once "their struggle is also our struggle". The second thing I want to praise them on is leading on the forming of the East Staffordshire Trade Council. Someone told me that there is roughly 10,000 Trade Union members in the area. It's important that there is a organisation such an organising, especially at a time when we have a very anti trade union MP.