Two women have been arrested and charged after police broke up a crowd of around 40 in Dundee’s City Square.
At least seven police officers in masks and disposable gloves physically removed a 74-year-old woman and a 52-year-old woman after the incident on Saturday lunchtime.
Officers later charged the 74-year-old woman with breach of coronavirus regulations and the 52-year-old woman with culpable and reckless conduct.
An eye-witness said one of the women had been visiting City Square regularly, offering a “suitcase library service” during the second lockdown as public libraries remain closed.
One of the women was also alleged to be handing out leaflets containing information sceptical of the coronavirus vaccination programme.
Critics of the arrests said they raise important questions around free speech during lockdown.
The ongoing coronavirus vaccination programme is essential to protect those most at risk from the virus, prevent ill health in the population and minimise further impact on the NHS and social care services.
Both women are due to appear at Dundee Sherriff Court.
Around 40 people had gathered in the square. They mostly dispersed after officers arrived and offered guidance on current coronavirus restrictions.
Video footage of the incident shows bystanders asking officers if they are “embarrassed” as two of them push one of the women into the back of a police vehicle.
The second, who appears visibly distressed after she has been placed in handcuffs and restrained by two officers, said she was handing out books “in zero degrees, outside.”
One eyewitness said he had gone to the square to return a book he had borrowed from the service previously.
He said: “I chatted for about five minutes and returned the book. Next thing I knew, three police officers came along and asked her to tidy the books away and leave.
“She was put under arrest. Another three police officers approached and arrested her friend.
“By this time a small crowd had gathered, maybe 30-40. One or two thought about intervening.
“A police van arrived from the Overgate side and the other one from opposite direction for her friend.
“Both were handcuffed and bundled into the vans,” he added.
A Police Scotland spokeswoman said they received a report of a protest in the Dundee City Square area at around 12.30pm.
She said: “Officers attended and most of the group dispersed after advice was given.
“A 52-year-old woman was arrested and charged in connection with culpable and reckless conduct.
“A 74-year-old woman was arrested and charged in connection with breach of coronavirus regulations,” she added.
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