A protestor was ‘bundled into a van’ outside the Conservative Party conference after holding up a sign calling Priti Patel a ‘fascist’.
Liam Geary Baulch, 28, from Manchester held up his handmade sign in Peter Street as the home secretary gave a speech to her fellow Tories on Tuesday detailing plans to crackdown on ‘disruptive’ activists.
But while she was inside talking about new police powers, Liam was outside being arrested for holding up a small placard with ‘Priti Fascist’ scrawled on it.
Liam said: ‘Within 30 seconds of holding this sign outside the Conservative Party conference it was confiscated by Manchester police for “offensive language”.
‘When I asked to have my property back, I was arrested for breach of the peace.
‘As Priti Patel laid out her crackdown on protest inside, I was in the back of a van for simply standing alone with a piece of cardboard.
‘If anything I’m more convinced now that this sign is the truth.’
Liam was later dearrested but Great Manchester’s handling of the incident has been criticised.
NetPol, The Network for Police Monitoring, said: ‘A protester standing outside Conservative Party conference in Manchester with a handmade sign reading “Priti Fascist”, during the Home Secretary’s speech to delegates, was arrested and bundled into a police van. He’s not wrong, is he?
‘How on earth does Greater Manchester Police justify this fundamental denial of rights to freedom of expression and assembly?’
During the course of her speech, the home secretary announced a number of ways the government plans to curtail the actions of disruptive activists.
They include giving the courts more power to stop protestors and increasing the maximum sentence for disruption to a motorway.
She also announced a new criminal offence for interfering with important infrastructure such as roads, railways and newspaper printing presses.
Police are also expected to be given greater ‘stop and search’ powers allowing officers to inspect activists for items such as glue, handcuffs and chains.
Repeat protestors could also be barred from attending demonstrations.
The new measures are to be included in the Police, Crime, Courts and Sentencing Bill which is currently going through parliament and has itself been objected to by large-scale demonstrations.
A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Police said: ‘A man was behaving aggressively towards an officer at around 11:30am this morning (Tuesday 5 October) on Peter Street, when another officer intervened and requested he step back multiple times.
‘A 28-year-old man was arrested to prevent further breach of the peace, and was given the option of being taken into custody, or leaving the area peacefully.
‘The man chose the latter, and was de-arrested a short time later.’