Police detain around 150 pro-Palestine protesters – after dozens of far-right demonstrators arrested

UK

Around 150 pro-Palestinian protesters have been detained by police after breaking away from a march that took place through London.

The Metropolitan Police said the group launched fireworks and many were wearing face coverings.

“Officers are using their Section 60 and 60AA powers to detain and search those involved,” the force said on X, adding later that some officers were struck in the face by the fireworks.

In a statement on Saturday night, Met Police assistant commissioner Matt Twist said police were still deployed across central London “responding to outbreaks of disorder and ensuring key sites are protected” ahead of Sunday’s remembrance events.

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Earlier in the day, 82 far-right counter-protesters were arrested in Pimlico, central London, “to prevent a breach of the peace”.

The force said those detained were “part of a large group of counter protestors we have been monitoring who have tried to reach the main protest march”.

It followed a march by what police said were around 300,000 pro-Palestinian protesters through central London on Armistice Day – that a number of politicians had said should be called off.

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People set off fireworks during a pro-Palestinian protest

Police said 10 other arrests had been made for a range of offences, including possession of offensive weapons, affray and assaulting a police officer.

A total of 126 people have been arrested so far, Mr Twist said.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak condemned what he called “violent and wholly unacceptable scenes we have seen today”.

“What we have seen today does not defend the honour of our Armed Forces, but utterly disrespects them,” he said in a statement posted on X.

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A ‘large group’ of far-right protesters were detained at Westminster Tube station

Mr Sunak branded far-right protesters “EDL (English Defence League) thugs” and also condemned individuals “singing antisemitic chants and brandishing pro-Hamas signs and clothing” during the pro-Palestinian march.

Read more:
Police ‘actively looking’ for individuals over antisemitic signs at pro-Palestinian march

“All criminality must be met with the full and swift force of the law,” he said, adding that he plans to meet with Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Mark Rowley in the coming days.

It comes after scuffles between police and a large mob of people, some of whom were carrying St George’s flags along Embankment, and shouting “England ’til I die”.

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Trouble also flared in Chinatown

A line of officers attempted to stop them from reaching Whitehall but the group pushed through, with some shouting “let’s have them” as officers responded with batons.

Bottles were also thrown at police by the counter-demonstrators, many of whom were wearing masks.

The confrontation happened shortly before the Armistice Day two-minute silence, when hundreds of people gathered at the Cenotaph to commemorate the UK’s war dead at 11am.

The service passed off without incident.

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Counter protesters and police in Parliament Square

Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, also known as Tommy Robinson, the founder of the EDL, had called for his supporters to mass in the capital.

He was among the crowds along with former GB News presenter Calvin Robinson.

The Met Police posted on X, formerly Twitter: “While the two minutes’ silence was marked respectfully and without incident on Whitehall, officers have faced aggression from counter-protesters who are in the area in significant numbers.”

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EDL founder Tommy Robinson was among the crowd

The force said it “will use all the powers and tactics available to us to prevent” the counter-protesters from confronting the main march calling for a ceasefire in Israel’s war against the militant group Hamas.

There were later further clashes in Chinatown when missiles were thrown at police, while a “large group” were detained following trouble at Westminster Tube station.

It is understood the group of about 100 people were being held under powers to prevent a disturbance.

The main pro-Palestinian demonstration had drawn criticism from the prime minister and home secretary because it coincided with remembrance events.

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More than half a million people were expected to attend the pro-Palestinian march

As protesters gathered at the start of the route at Hyde Park, chants of “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” could be heard.

The cry is viewed by many Jews as antisemitic, and is taken to mean a call for the eradication of Israel.

Others carried Palestinian flags and placards with slogans such as “free Palestine” and “end the siege”, while chanting “ceasefire now”.

Former prime minister Boris Johnson addressed the chants heard during the march, whilst thanking police for keeping people safe.

Writing in a statement on X, he said: “Almost 80 years after the end of the Second World War it is shocking to hear nakedly anti-Semitic chants on the streets of London today. There are people who plainly want to ignore the Hamas massacre of October 7.

“They want to wipe Israel off the map. That is what they were chanting for today. They must not and will not succeed.

“I thank the police for all their efforts to keep people safe – but we must all do more, because an ancient hatred is rising again in Europe. It must be stamped out.”

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‘From the river to the sea’ explained

Towards the end of the march, a number of pro-Palestinian protesters also staged a sit-in at Waterloo station, with a similar sit-in held briefly at Victoria station earlier in the afternoon.

The British Transport Police said no arrests were made.

Meanwhile, footage of Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove being mobbed at Victoria station by pro-Palestinian protesters circulated online.

The flag-waving protesters crowding him were heard chanting “shame on you” as officers shouted at them to “get back” and guided Mr Gove through the station.

More than 1,000 police officers were drafted in from outside forces to monitor the protests, with the Met saying 1,850 personnel will be on duty on Saturday and 1,375 on Sunday.

Mr Twist said nine officers were injured throughout the day, including two who required hospital treatment for a fractured elbow and suspected dislocated hip.

Suella Braverman had faced accusations of inflaming tensions after accusing the police of “playing favourites” when they resisted pressure to ban the march calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict.

In the face of condemnation and calls for Mr Sunak to sack her, Mrs Braverman subsequently expressed her “full backing” for the Metropolitan Police at a meeting with Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley.

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Sir Mark Rowley, left, talking to officers policing the protest

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The two-minute silence at the Cenotaph passed off peacefully

Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper took aim at the home secretary as she condemned the scenes of far-right violence and antisemitic hate during the day.

“Both violence and hate crimes must face the full force of the law,” she said in a statement.

“Suella Braverman was warned repeatedly of the dangers of inflaming tensions and undermining the police.

“A home secretary that doesn’t take seriously the security of our streets is only allowed to remain in a government that has lost all sense of governing. Britain is better than Rishi Sunak and his Cabinet.”

Pro-Palestinian protests have also been held elsewhere in the UK, including Glasgow.

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Pro-Palestinian protests were held in other parts of the UK, including Glasgow

Police Scotland said five men and two women had been arrested at separate incidents linked to demonstrations in Glasgow city centre.

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