Riot at Childrens talent show
Probe after peace activist arrest
A CLASH between police and the audience of a children's talent show - which led to the arrest of a leading anti-gun campaigner - was being investigated today.
Raymond Bell, one of six arrested, spent the night in a cell after being handcuffed outside Manchester's Bridgewater Hall. His wife, peace activist Erinma - recently hailed by Gordon Brown as a national hero - claimed the violence had set back police community relations in the city by `ten years'.
She said her husband was verbally abused, punched to the ground and kicked by officers as the couple tried to find their son. An investigation has been launched and Greater Manchester Police is voluntarily calling in the Independent Police Complaints Commission.Supt Mark Burtonwood said last night: "If any of my officers have done anything to set back the good community work that has been done, I want to know about it and appeal for witnesses to come forward."
Trouble erupted when police tried to search a car that pulled up outside, suspecting there may have been a gun inside.
The event, run by a Moss Side voluntary group, had taken place peacefully and those in the car were unconnected to it.
The suspects began to struggle as people spilled out of Bridgewater Hall as the show finished.
Officers say they were surrounded by more than 120 people and pressed their panic buttons - sending an emergency call to colleagues for back-up and a police line was formed.
Witnesses say skirmishes broke out between police and the crowd.
Five officers were injured.Mr Bell's son, Theo, a guest at the show, was caught up in the police cordon and phoned his dad for help. But Mrs Bell says when her husband approached an officer, he responded by shouting abuse in his face.
She said an officer threw a punch at her husband, then another officer went behind him, got him around the neck `and they started kicking and punching him on the floor'.
She said the situation became more inflamed when youngsters saw her husband being kicked."I told them not to get involved," she said. "They then carted Raymond off into the back of a van."She claimed officers kicked one youth on the ground and said: "The last time I saw police brutality like that was during the riots.
They came down like a ton of bricks hitting and grabbing people. They even had the dogs out."Mrs Bell said: "Ten years of good work to try to improve relations between the community and police and it's ruined in ten minutes."Mr Bell was released on bail.
He had been arrested on suspicion of violent disorder along with three other people.Supt Burtonwood said police were `disappointed and frustrated' that the event was `marred' by the `regrettable' disturbance.
He said the disorder was started by the group in the car, who had nothing to do with the event. One of the men, who was wanted in connection with a shooting, got away when the fracas began.
NWN: Now we wonder what type of people these were ? Answers on a small postcard to NWN .