Police officers who were forced to remove nightclub revellers who staged a sit-down protest in Kenlis Street have been accused of being heavy handed.
On Saturday evening a group of approximately 100 people left a club on the Rathfriland Road, allegedly singing songs such as the ‘Sash’, performing a sit down protest before walking up the middle of the road towards the town centre.
Following the protest the PSNI moved in to remove those involved.
During this time an officer was hit on the head. A 42-year-old male was later arrested on three counts of assaulting a police officer. He will appear in court on August 1
The crowd then moved off and attempted to block vehicles from travelling on the Newry Road roundabout. It’s believed the crowd dispersed at 2.45am.
“They just came along and started slapping people across the legs with their batons. It was totally unnecessary,” said one onlooker who did not wish to be named.
“Maybe the songs should not have been sung; it maybe wasn’t the time or the place, but to beat people off the streets is very heavy handed. If anything their reaction made the situation worse. It was late at night and I’m sure people would have moved on eventually.”
A police spokesperson said they received a report at around 1.45am on Sunday of large numbers of people leaving a licensed premises in the area.
“Causing an obstruction on the highway is an offence. Causing danger to road users, by putting anything on the road, or interfering with a vehicle or traffic equipment is an offence. Police can arrest for any of these offences - fines can be issued or people can be taken into custody,” he said.
“Individuals have the right to peaceful, lawful protest, in line with the Human Rights Act. Police will act appropriately to ensure that there is no unnecessary disruption to the public by such a protest.”
To watch footage from Saturday night’s protest see banbridgeleader.co.uk.