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."