Angry students rip down ‘lockdown fences and set off flares’ at uni protest

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A group of students have ripped down metal lockdown fencing at their university campus after it was installed without warning.

Hundreds of University of Manchester students staged a protest and tore down metal fencing put in place to separate residences at the institution’s Fallowfield Campus.

It was erected on the evening of Thursday, November 5, the same day England went in to a second national lockdown for four weeks, reports Manchester Evening News.

The students claim they were not warned about the metal barrier, but the university had issued a statement earlier on in the day.

Megan, a first-year Management student, who did not want to give her surname, told the BBC: "Morale is really low, we're really disappointed we didn't hear about this beforehand and about the fact it went up without any explanation.

"They're huge metal barriers, they're connected to one another and there's literally no gaps.

"There is fencing around the whole outside, we feel like it's completely unnecessary. It makes it feel like we're in a prison."

It is understood a number of students contacted MEN to raise concerns about the mental health they are already under and the fence, after they woke to find it had been put up.

Parents have criticised the institution, claiming the barrier is “penning them in” to an area.

Protests kicked off at around 9pm, the university issued an apology around an hour later and said the fencing would be removed on Friday morning.

By then, a number of the fences had been ripped down, with videos shared to social media of demonstrators taking matters into their own hands.

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In a statement, Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor said: "I sincerely apologise for the concern and distress caused by the erecting of a fence around our Fallowfield Halls of Residence today.

"This was not our intention – in fact quite the reverse.

"The fencing was intended as a response to a number of concerns received over recent weeks from staff and students on this site about safety and security; particularly about access by people who are not residents."

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She added: "There was never any intent to prevent students from entering or exiting the site.

"The fences are being taken down from Friday morning and students are being contacted immediately. Alternative security measures, including additional security patrols are being put in place.

"I apologise once again for the issues caused by this incident."

  • Students
  • Coronavirus
  • Lockdown

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