York protest: 'Pro choice freedom march' to be held in York today

A group of protestors who describe themselves as 'pro choice' are set to march through York today.

North Yorkshire Police has issued a statement to say it is "working to facilitate a peaceful event and ensure the safety of both demonstrators and members of the public".

The protest revolves around safety concerns over the Covid-19 vaccine, but one member of the protest said they are not "anti-vaxxers".

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Liam Hunt, who expects a "large gathering" at the event, said: "Primarily it is a “Pro Choice Freedom March” in response to the government using discriminatory tactics and coercion to increase covid vaccine uptake.

A protest is set to take place in York city centre this afternoon

"I would also like to point out that the group is a mixture of those who chose to have the vaccine and those who chose not to.

"We feel that everyone has/should have the freedom to decide which medical treatments they have without fear of being penalised or stigmatised in the form of (divisive) vaccine passports."

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Police said the demonstration will involve a march through the city, which is due to set off from York Minster at around 2pm and will take a circular, clockwise route around the city via Deangate, Aldwark and Stonebow.

The march will then turn into Colliergate and proceed through central parts of the city along Low Petergate, Stonegate, Davygate and Parliament Street. From there demonstrators will proceed back to the Minster, via High Ousegate, Coney Street, Blake Street and Duncombe Place.

North Yorkshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Mark Pannone said: “We’re working to ensure a peaceful demonstration while also ensuring residents, visitors and businesses experience as little disruption as possible.

“Fortunately, we are very experienced at managing demonstrations and large scale events in the region and have a number of resources to hand to ensure everything runs smoothly. Officers will be patrolling and engaging with those involved and members of the public, so that feeling of safety and security is maintained for everyone in the city.

“I understand that residents and business owners may be concerned about the activity and the impact it may have on a busy Saturday afternoon, a few weeks before Christmas. That’s why there will be an increased and visible police presence, to minimise disruption, ensure public safety at all times and to enable the city centre to return to normal as soon as possible, once the activity has ended.

“Everyone has the right to voice their opinion. Peaceful protest is key part of UK democracy and a right which police uphold and facilitate. I would ask that both residents and demonstrators respect these rights and each other’s opinions, so that the event can take place in a peaceful manner without any incident.”