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Assault probe as animal rights activists clash with traders at livestock market

PUBLISHED: 16:28 10 March 2020 | UPDATED: 13:38 13 March 2020

Mike Beckett holds up a turkey as auctioneer Emma Coupland gets to work during the turkey auction at Norwich Livestock Market. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Mike Beckett holds up a turkey as auctioneer Emma Coupland gets to work during the turkey auction at Norwich Livestock Market. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

Police are investigating an assault after animal rights activists clashed with traders at a livestock market over the weekend.

Animal rights activists clashed with traders at Norwich Livestock Market over the weekend. Picture; Steve AdamsAnimal rights activists clashed with traders at Norwich Livestock Market over the weekend. Picture; Steve Adams

The Norwich Livestock Market is routinely picketed by animal rights activists and has been for the past few years - protests which largely end up going by without incident.

However, on Saturday, March 7, Norfolk Constabulary received a report of an assault on a woman as protesters blocked the road leading up to the market on Hall Road.

The incident, which was filmed and published on social media, saw activists lining the road approaching the market, greeting farmers and traders as they arrived and obstructing their path.

A banner then got caught on one of the vehicles as it drove past, leading to a fiery exchange between protesters and a woman who had climbed out of the four-by-four further up the road.

The woman then appears to be wrestled to the ground and held down by the activists, before police officers intervene.

The incident has prompted a call for calm from organisers of the livestock market, who said the protests got in the way of farmers going about their routines.

Mike Beckett, vice chairman of Norfolk Livestock Market, said: 'We have had protests at the market for the past few years and on the whole we have no problem with them being held - people are well within their rights to protest and have their beliefs.

'However, the farmers who attend the market are simply trying to go about earning a living in a profession that has existed for hundreds of years. They have just as much right to go about their business as the protesters have to demonstrate.'

Mr Beckett said the woman involved was 'rather shaken up' and that she had reported the incident to the police.

Debbie Anne, organiser of Norfolk Animal Save, said: 'We have been holding vigils at Norwich Livestock Market for over three years. We are part of the 'Save Movement UK' that bears witness to animals going to slaughter and those being exploited at livestock markets.

'During these three years we have always been peaceful and ignore the ever-increasing resistance from farmers. We have an agreement with the police to stop the farmers' vehicles for 40 seconds prior to them entering the market.

'This enables us to document the condition of the animals arriving for sale and show the public the reality of animal agriculture.'

She added: 'We would like to state that our presence there is to raise awareness and show comfort to stressed and panic-stricken animals and not to engage with the farmers.'

A spokesman for Norfolk Constabulary said: 'Officers are investigating a report of an assault in Hall Road, Norwich, shortly before 10.30am on Saturday. A protest was taking place outside the livestock market in Hall Road at the same time.

'There is a right to peaceful protest and assembly in this country. Everyone has the right to free speech and protest and officers have to balance actions and views of people with passionate and firm views on both sides.'

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