A police officer was punched while he was arresting anti-lockdown protesters after they refused to socially distance. 

Around 200 people gathered in Millennium Square in Leeds city centre yesterday to protest against lockdown rules and vaccinations. They were joined by far-right protesters, who the police believe came from outside the area.

Activists clashed with police officers as they arrested organisers of the demonstration for refusing to adhere to social distancing rules, or provide their details for fines.

An officer was punched during the chaos and pepper spray was used on protesters – which can only be used if someone has been violent or is threatening to be violent. 

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Three people were arrested and were later released on bail. 

A police spokesperson said: ‘West Yorkshire Police fully acknowledges the importance of lawful protests and demonstrations, but these have to be balanced against current legislation which is in place to protect the health and safety of the public during the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

‘There are restrictions on protests, which include completing risk assessments to ensure such events do not contribute to the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, we urge protest organisers to engage fully with the police at the earliest opportunity so appropriate assessments can be made.’

West Yorkshire narrowly avoided going into tier three on Friday, after local leaders and the Government came out of discussions deciding to leave the high-risk area in tier two. 

Police have been clashing with anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine protests across the country, with police using batons to control crowds in London over the weekend. 

They believe ‘we are living in a state of authoritarian control’ and a ‘police dictatorship’.

Their website says: ‘We do not consent to Government social distancing measures infringing upon public and private life.  We do not accept enforced masks. We do not accept a dictatorship of lockdowns, threats of lockdowns, and Covid Ghettos.’

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