Sussex Police 'overreacted' at protest: Brighton Uncut

Brighton march
Image caption Striking public sector workers took to the streets in Brighton and Hove with banners and flags

Police have been accused of overreaction in arresting four people during a protest in Brighton in support of striking public sector workers.

About 3,500 people took part in the pensions rally in the city on Thursday.

Brighton Uncut, which supported the strikers, said protesters trying to hand out leaflets and sing songs had been met with violence from the police.

Police said the arrests had followed an assault in Churchill Square and disruption within a shop and a bank.

'Brighton Four'

The group is part of UK Uncut, which wants banks and firms it accuses of tax avoidance to pay for the economic crisis.

Accusing Sussex Police of "over-the-top policing", it said members had talked to passers-by on Thursday to highlight that there were alternatives to the cuts, and had received an "overwhelming amount of support from shoppers".

Brighton Uncut said protesters had met outside Vodafone in Churchill Square and had tried to go into the store to talk to customers and staff, but were "violently ejected by security".

"Once the police turned up protesters left Churchill Square to go to Boots and Barclays," it added.

Terry Glib, one of the protesters, said they had tried to get into the shops to talk to customers and staff but were "attacked".

He said the companies were "embarrassed" by their tax arrangements and subsidies.

Sussex Police said a woman and three men had been arrested for public nuisance and aggravated trespass offences after what had earlier been a large, peaceful demonstration.

'Completely unrelated'

Supt Steve Whitton said: "A group of approximately 25 were responsible for an assault against staff in Churchill Square and disruption within Boots and Barclays Bank which prevented and obstructed staff and customers.

"This behaviour went beyond peaceful demonstrating and significantly infringed upon the rights of other members of the community who would expect us to act.

"We consider that this action was completely unrelated to the earlier demonstration and conducted by individuals who have little regard for the rights of others in the city."

The four people, dubbed the "Brighton Four" by the campaign group, were later released on bail.

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