Organiser of Stroud Freedom Rally Debbie Hicks arrested

, Organiser of Stroud Freedom Rally Debbie Hicks arrested

The organiser of a ‘freedom rally’ that took place in Stroud earlier this morning was arrested.

Debbie Hicks was arrested by officers at the rally in Stratford Park, which saw around 100 people in attendance.

Hicks said the rally was about ‘standing up against tyranny’ and ‘freedom of speech’ when speaking to protesters at the event.

The rally went ahead against the wishes of Stroud District Council, who refused permission for the event to take place.

A large police presence was at the rally, with more than 15 officers in attendance.

It’s believed that two further protesters were arrested at the rally, including a 74-year-old woman.

Anti-lockdown campaigner Piers Corbyn who was scheduled to speak at the rally was not present.

A spokesman for Gloucestershire Constabulary said: “Earlier today Gloucestershire Constabulary attended a mass gathering of between 80 and 100 people in Stroud.

“The vast majority of people dispersed however, three arrests were made and a number of fixed penalty notices were given in relation to violations of coronavirus restrictions.

“After failing to leave, despite being warned before and during the event, a 46-year-old woman was arrested under the Coronavirus Act.

“A 24-year-old man and 74-year-old woman were also arrested for failing to provide their name and address when being issued with a fixed penalty notice. 

“A number of fines were also given, including a £10,000 fixed penalty notice that was issued to a woman for organising an event of more than 30 people.

“All who attended were engaged with by local police who examined the new legislation. The majority dispersed from the gathering at Stratford Park.

“As from Thursday, the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions, England, No.4) Regulations 2020 came into effect as England entered into its second lockdown period.

“This legislation makes it clear that the general population’s public health is to be prioritised over an individual’s right to protest.

“Previously, with certain conditions, protest activity was permitted.  This is not the case during this current lockdown. Gathering in groups of more than two in public spaces is now illegal.

“Gloucestershire Police have been and will continue to enforce the current regulations throughout the lockdown period.

“Gloucestershire Police strongly advise everyone to stay away from any planned protest or gatherings during this lockdown period in order to protect the NHS and save lives.

“It is vital that we all play our part in reducing the spread of the virus and keeping each other safe.”

More information on the current government restrictions can be found via https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-national-restrictions-from-5-november

Thanks to Simon Pizzey for capturing the action at the rally. 

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