Many people were stunned and outraged on Sunday night when photographs emerged of police snipers atop Manchester roofs during yesterday’s anti-austerity protests outside the Conservative Party conference in the city.
Numerous social media users expressed concerns that armed police would be deployed simply because thousands of UK citizens were exercising their democratic right and freedom to protest.
— Ben Whittingham (@BenWhittingham2) October 4, 2015
Now, admittedly, the presence of the snipers could be justified on the grounds of security. After all, the British Prime Minister was in town and terrorism threats aren’t anything new.
However, the official reason given by Greater Manchester Police was slightly odd, to say the least.
Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, a spokesperson for GMP said:
It is an ongoing observation of the biggest march that has ever been in Manchester because of the Tory Party conference. But they are there purely for observation and supporting the police at the march as it’s a major public event.
They are high up for that reason, to observe. And they [the guns] are used for their powerful sight, which is stronger than any pair of binoculars. They are not there to shoot people.
Police say snipers at #toryconf using guns to "observe" as they're better than binoculars. Don't think that'd go down too well at the opera.
— Sebastian Salek (@sebastiansalek) October 5, 2015
Could you not just have used a telescope, lads? Just a thought…