UPDATE – Police move to thwart Sunday protest plans in Hastings park, new statement from Sussex Police

A cafe owner in a park in Hastings says anti-lockdown protests on Sunday mornings have forced the business to delay its opening time until the illegal gatherings are over.

Yesterday there was a heavy police presence in the park following the events of a week ago when a crowd gathered to dance the Hokey Cokey.

Sussex Police told Hastings In Focus: “About 30 people who had gathered in Alexandra Park, Hastings, on Sunday morning were required by police to leave as a Dispersal Order was in place.

“Officers engaged with those present explaining the government’s coronavirus regulations and the reason for the dispersal order and encouraged people to leave. 

“Four people, a man and three women, were issued with fines for failing to comply with the Covid regulations. One of the women was also arrested for assaulting a police officer and one was also arrested for failing to provide details. All the group had left the park by midday.” 

It’s understood that last week’s events and those thought to have been planned for yesterday which prompted the police intervention were part of a campaign of protests by the anti-lockdown movement ‘A Stand in the Park’.

The international movement Stand In The Park which began in Australia urges people to put on yellow clothes or jackets and stand in a designated local park every Sunday between 10am and 11am for ‘Personal Truth and Freedom in Unity’. Alexandra Park in Hastings is one of a number of locations nominated by the protest group and publicised on its social media accounts.

One observer on facebook said of the police presence: “Hastings police did a great job. They engaged with the group and reminded them of the lockdown rules and persuaded them to move on.” While another wrote: “…the police are totally in wrong here.”

There was a heavy police presence in Alexandra Park on Sunday morning.

Meanwhile the team behind the Eat At The Park cafe in Alexandra Park accuse members of the gathering of: “Mocking the sacrifices we have all made over the past year and risking the progress made.”

In a social media post on Sunday, the managers of the café that normally opens at 9am said they wanted ‘no part’ in illegal protests that could risk the spread of the disease.

Part of the protests have generally included performance of a synchronised dance routine in which, in a previous week, members of the public were seen to take part while holding hands.

The Eat At The Park statement on social media says: “Following saddening scenes in Alexandra Park this morning eat@thePark cafe will now be opening later on Sundays for the foreseeable future.

“It seems that there is a vocal and rather agitated minority of people who consider the right to dance the ‘Hokey Cokey’ to be a priority over working together to reach the end of the current Coronavirus restrictions, and we wish to be very clear that we will have no part of this.

Part of the Eat @ The Park statement published on social media yesterday.

“In addition, we feel we are unable to guarantee the wellbeing of our law-abiding staff and customers while those intent on promoting their rather incoherent range of messages continue to meet so near our premises.

“In these times where we all seem to have to take a stance on every issue, we would like our closure to be our comment on this particular group or groups, and not on other recent protests.

“We consider these ‘Hokey Cokey’ gatherings to be unlike others in a number of regards – they are designed solely to breach regulations regarding social distancing and safety, the organisers do not request to work with the police or authorities – in fact, the very opposite – and the protests are organised in secret rather than on public forums, meaning that it is difficult to know what might happen.

“We share the concerns of many regarding recent legislation regarding the right to protest but feel very strongly that these particular events do nothing but provide a justification for those wishing to strengthen anti-protest laws.  

“As they appear to be for the purpose of protesting and actively defying coronavirus restrictions, we consider them to be mocking the sacrifices we have all made over the past year and risking the progress made.”

Tell us what you think of the police actions on Sunday in our comment section below.

13 thoughts on “UPDATE – Police move to thwart Sunday protest plans in Hastings park, new statement from Sussex Police

  1. I wish the local police were as keen to deal with the local nutters who steal, vandalise, deal in drugs and drive without care or insurance. It seems to be an all or nothing approach, mostly nothing.

  2. I called the police because I was being harassed and threatened online. I presented them with 70 screenshots of Tweets and Facebook posts. THEY DID NOTHING. NOTHING. Then I go to the park and see a bunch of male police officers brutalising a woman who was just walking through the park — two weeks after a policeman KILLED a woman! These police are a disgrace to the force and should be sacked.

  3. I find the comments of the cafe quite hypocritical……I was in the park just observing….yes the cafe was busy but no more than the normal crowd that gather there and I also saw that most of the ‘protesters’ had bought cups of coffee …….the cafe were obviously happy to take their money. For that……

    1. Hi Steve, I run the cafe in Alexandra Park. It is precisely for that reason that we have amended our opening times. We are not happy to take their money, but it is not appropriate to ask our team to try to work out people’s intentions whilst serving them. Hope that clears things up for you.

      1. Louise,this situation most be so difficult for you and your family.I feel very upset to see this selfish behaviour and I feel equally as sad to see it affecting your business,that you have worked so hard for .From Julia, Connor and Dil

    2. Hi steve, Louise again. You got me thinking about the money we took from the ‘protestors’ as we were unable to identify them before the event started. We thought we could put it to some good use as, like I said, we are not comfortable with being in any way linked to this group, even unwittingly. So, we calculated the amount we think those who took part in the events may have paid buying their drinks, and we have made a donation for that amount to Full Fact, an organisation that tackles bad information spread online. Then we donated the same amount from our own pockets to Covax AMC, which organises and distributes Covid vaccines in developing nations. Links to both are here, should anyone wish to do the same

      https://fullfact.org/donate/?utm_source=navbar&utm_medium=donatepage

      https://covaxamc.ctdonate.org/index:payment.html

  4. I’m sorry to say the police account was not accurate. I was there and if the police saw 30 people gathering they must have included the people queuing for the café, the 5 or 6 people wanting to have a dance, me and my sister who stopped to speak to the would-be revellers and people walking along the footpath. The 5 or 6 people moved away from other park users and did a little dance some distance away. When the puce asked them to disperse they did. Non story.

  5. I’m sure that the beleaguered NHS workers, care workers, shop staff etc, would applaud the efforts of the police and cafe staff, who are acting to follow the guidance we all need to stick to. I’m no supporter of this government, but do respect the views of their advisors, Chris Whitty and Jonathan Van-Tan, and we must restrict our contact – simple! Come on Hastings – we’re doing well… rates are coming down!

  6. Oh dear, the park cafe have just lost a customer. They support other protests but not this one? They should prob research more also… The stands are all over public forums, the hokey cokey is a threat to your staff? ?. No one standing in a park is any risk to restrictions lifting, the gov is doing that all on its own. Lockdowns arnt helping, the vaxx isn’t helping… But the police were def there for the right reasons?! The same police that refuse to have an on foot patrol through the same park to protect the vulnerable at night.

  7. Selfish time wasting, attention seeking & irresponsible people. It was right for the police to break up any gatherings. Just not right that the selfish placed that pressure on their already limited resources. Also that the selfish disrupted the park on a Spring Sunday for everyone else.

    As for the cafe owner – I have not visited you before but will make a point of doing so. I hope the cafe thrives via the support of responsible supportive customers.

    How stressful & time demanding this sad bunch are for everyone involved. As if the police, park staff, HBC & related businesses like the cafe etc etc were not already under enough strain.

  8. Louise,this situation most be so difficult for you and your family.I feel very upset to see this selfish behaviour and I feel equally as sad to see it affecting your business,that you have worked so hard for .From Julia, Connor and Dil

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