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by Our News Desk
HUNDREDS of people gathered in central Manchester yesterday to mark the 196th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre.
On August 16 1819, 60,000 people from Manchester and its surrounding towns gathered in St Peter’s Square in the city to hear radical speakers calling for democracy.
The crowd was charged by sabre-wielding cavalry who slaughtered 15 people and injured between 400 and 700.
The outrage sparked protests across Britain, resulting in a vicious and draconian clampdown on pubic gatherings, which were outlawed.
In 2009 five friends got together to walk into Manchester to commemorate the anniversary of the event. It has been held ever since.
Sixty people were present in 2011, this year it was well over 600.
The commemoration included presentations from actors Maxine Peake and John Henshaw.
Maxine read versus from Shelley’s epic poem Masque Of Anarchy, inspired by the massacre.
It was named Peterloo after Saint Peter’s Square and the Battle of Waterloo a few years earlier.
Yesterday’s event included songs from the open-voice choir.
Banners were carried, mirroring those original demonstrations bearing words such as “equal representation or death.”
Among those taking part were two of the founders from 2009, Martin Gittens and Bob Ashworth.
Mr Ashworth said: “Martin had the idea seven years ago when five of us went to the site of the massacre. That was in 2009 and it’s grown from that. By 2019 we hope there will be tens of thousands.”
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