A STAGED rooftop squatters protest containing around 50 people took place at the Cornerhouse, Oxford Road, where they have been staying for approximately four weeks.

Police were called after concerns about one of the protesters threatening to hang themselves off the roof top with a noose they were holding – the road Whitworth St West was quickly closed as a safety precaution.

The squatters protest appeared to be well planned with some ‘supporters’ having walky-talkies, phones and film cameras.

The squatters began their protest due to Network Rail wanting to reclaim their space that they privately own.

Network Rail is looking to utilise the currently empty area next to the train station; it is unknown what Network Rail aim to do with the space as Network Rail were unavailable for comment.

According to reports, the occupants at Cornerhouse cinema agreed to leave by 5pm today (25th April).

Police and a Network Rail representative were seen speaking to the squatters trying to get them to leave the Corner House building, but they continued to refuse.

One protester who was stood on the roof shouted [whilst pointing to the man next to him]: “There’s a man who fights for people’s rights, there’s a man who fights for people who can’t fight for themselves, there’s a man who stands up to his Government.

There’s a man who’s not afraid of being locked up for what he thinks is right.”

A quote from Manchester Activist Networks said:

“We are a group of like-minded activists, who are homeless or have been affected by homelessness in the last five years. We are protesting to Manchester Council and the Government to raise this urgent issue and to pose the question, “what is home?” We also want to raise awareness of all the 11,000 empty residential buildings in Manchester and the 2600+ empty business spaces in the city centre as well. Considering there are 175 rough sleepers (approx) in Manchester and an unknown quantity of technically homeless people/families in the city as well, we believe there is ample space to stop friends and citizens dying on the street.”

By Jessica Dobbs

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