Article published: Saturday, October 10th 2015
Manchester Angels, ‘set up to protect the streets of Manchester City Centre’, was founded by Wesley Hall in response to the tragic death of seventeen year old Adam Pickup in 2013. Manchester Angels are currently occupying a non-residential building together with the Love Activists, on Charlotte Street, with the goal of creating a Homeless Hub that can offer help to the vulnerable people that have no choice but to sleep rough around the city. Refurbishment of the building is on-going and the aim is to raise awareness of housing crisis in Manchester that has worsened significantly since David Cameron became Prime Minister, while providing support to those affected.
The Love Activists’ facebook page states that: ‘We are highlighting the fact that homelessness has risen 150% since David Cameron has been in power and Richard Leese’s Manchester Labour Council hasn’t helped matters by imposing an injunction that criminalises homeless people for using a tent!!! We are also highlighting the oppression we face in society in general, especially the imprisonment of the Love Activists jailed for helping the homeless in Liverpool.’
The Love Activists they refer to are those who were sentenced at Liverpool Magistrates Court this September. Similar action had been taken in Liverpool earlier this year when the Love Activists took over a Bank of England building in April with the purpose of opening a homeless shelter. The five people arrested were tried on the grounds of illegal occupation. Four people received a ten week jail sentence, while another was sentenced for thirteen weeks. There was disorder at the court hearing when supporters of the defendants protested their treatment at the hands of the law and barricaded the main entrance to the building.
John Rice was amongst the defendants. Rice, homeless himself, was motivated to become involved in the Love Activists’ occupation by the opportunity to have a roof over his head argued his lawyer Richard Brigden. He was not the only one amongst those jailed who was homeless; Chelsea Stafford, who was sentenced to ten weeks in jail, is only nineteen years old, and homeless and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder explained her lawyer Adam Bonney.
‘She was not there to cause destruction’ he said, adding that Stafford’s role was cooking and cleaning in the occupied building.
At the hearing, Rice could be heard shouting from the dock, ‘There was a paedophile that got community service the other day and I get custody!’
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