Update: Stuart Potts has been jailed for 16 weeks for launching fireworks into a group of war veterans at a Remembrance Day service.
A ‘squatter’ who disrupted a Remembrance Sunday two-minute silence to honour fallen war veterans has been charged with a public order offence and for firing fireworks in to a public place.
Stuart Potts, 38, from Salford, was arrested shortly after he allegedly set off a ‘rocket’ just after 11am yesterday, November 10, near the cenotaph in Eccles town centre, terrifying the crowd that had gathered there.
Footage of the incident went viral after getting posted on social media shortly after the fireworks were set off, showing local residents reacting angrily to the shocking disruption.
You can watch the aftermath below (warning: explicit language):
Potts can be seen in the footage sitting on the window ledge of the disused Albert Edward pub in the town centre, as a large group of people – including elderly servicemen – shout up towards him.
Many could be heard shouting ‘get him out’, while others were seen trying to break down the door of the pub as a number of concerned police officers tried to hold members of the public back.
Police officers eventually managed to apprehend Potts, a father-of-four who runs the Saving People Shelter Project and leads a group of squatters.
The group was evicted from another pub in Eccles in October after illegally occupying it for two months before. As per the Mirror, the pub from which the fireworks were launched yesterday, the Albert Edward, is permanently closed and appears to be housing several squatters.
Potts previously told the Manchester Evening News (MEN) he had been turned down for housing and had been living on the streets since being evicted from his social housing flat.
Footage of the incident showed Potts retreating back into the empty pub through an upstairs window after members of the crowd started launching traffic cones at him when he started arguing back with them.
A statement released by Greater Manchester Police following the incident said, as per the MEN:
A man has been charged with a public order offence and for firing fireworks in to a public place. Stuart Potts (10/7/81) of Borough Road, Salford has been charged with a public order offence and for firing fireworks in to a public place.
He will appear at Manchester and Salford Magistrates Court today.
Members of the public took to social media to condemn Potts’ alleged actions, with one man stating: ‘How sad to see Remembrance Sunday service marred by a complete idiot.’
The man claimed to have seen a man sitting on a window at the Albert Edward pub, facing the memorial, drinking from a can shortly before the two-minute silence.
A woman who witnessed the incident said she was ‘disgusted’ by it, adding the remembrance service was ‘completely ruined’ by the fireworks being let off into the crowd and ‘showering members of the public with embers and sparks’.
Potts is due to appear at Manchester and Salford Magistrates Court today, November 11.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).