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6th March 2024

Large protest held on campus against the Manchester Pro-Life Society

A movement to protest the first meeting of the Manchester Pro-Life Society began at 6pm, starting at the Students’ Union and moving to the Zochonis Building as the Manchester Pro-Life society were having their meeting
Large protest held on campus against the Manchester Pro-Life Society
Credit: Lucy Craig @ The Mancunion

On February 29, a protest organised by the “Stop Manchester Pro-life” movement congregated outside the Manchester Students’ Union at 6pm. 

Protesters gathered to disrupt the first in-person meeting of the Pro-Life society and show support for the pro-choice movement.

Credit: Lucy Craig @ The Mancunion

Crowds gathered in front of the SU building just after 6p.m. Around 6:24 p.m., during speeches expressing support for abortion access and bodily autonomy, a scuffle broke out as two men, unrelated to the protest, entered the centre of the protest outside the Students’ Union. No students were harmed in the fighting.

The protest group then marched towards the Zochonis Building, where the Pro-life members entered for their meeting.

After marching through Brunswick Park to the Zochonis Building crowds gathered around the building whilst chanting in an attempt to disturb the proceedings of the meeting. Shouts of “wankers” and “shame on you” were witnessed as society members entered the front of the building. 

Chants of “abortion is healthcare and healthcare is a right” as well as “whose campus: our campus” were used throughout the evening.

During the protest, police arrived to witness and keep the crowds back as Pro-Life society participants arrived at the Zochonis building. At one point three officers escorted one person inside the building, to the anger of the crowd. 

Whilst the original police presence was reasonably large, with three police vans spotted at one point, many left as the evening de-escalated.

Heavy emphasis was placed on ensuring protesters didn’t talk to the police. Organisers handed out legal information and advice on arrest.

As the evening wound down, protestors surrounded both exits of the Zochonis Building hoping to catch a glimpse of Pro-Life members leaving.

Participants leaving the meeting were accompanied by a police escort, with protestors following. 

The establishment of the Pro-Life society earlier this semester comes in the wake of recent freedom of speech laws enacted in 2023, set to be fully enforced by September 2024.

Over 15,000 individuals signed a petition seeking the society’s dissolution. The Students’ Union has since explained their legal position regarding the affiliation of new societies.

The Pro-Life society had planned to host a guest speaker on March 4 but the event was cancelled. A follow-up protest was scheduled for March 4, but was subsequently cancelled.

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