Anti-lockdown protests: Three officers injured as 18 are arrested after clashes with police

Robert Dex, April Roach
·3-min read
Demonstrators gather in Parliament Square during a protest against the lockdown restrictions brought in to prevent the spread of coronavirus: PA
Demonstrators gather in Parliament Square during a protest against the lockdown restrictions brought in to prevent the spread of coronavirus: PA

Eighteen people have been arrested after protesters clashed with police at an anti-lockdown demonstration in London.

Thousands of campaigners marched to Parliament after bringing Oxford Street to a standstill.

The Metropolitan Police said 18 arrests were made after officers took action to disperse crowds when "disruption" was caused on Westminster Bridge.

Three officers sustained minor injuries after they clashed with campaigners at the Stop the New Normal protest, said the force.

Arrests were made for breaches of coronavirus regulations, assaulting an emergency service worker, violent disorder and for being wanted by police.

The demonstrators, carrying banners saying "Covid1984" and "Flu d'etat", chanted "Take your freedom back, take off your masks" as they marched through the West End.

“This protest is no longer exempt from the regulations and we are asking demonstrators to leave," the Met said on Twitter.

“There is disruption on Westminster Bridge as officers continue to disperse crowds.”

By 2.30pm the protesters were outside New Scotland Yard and reportedly heading towards Parliament Square.

Demonstrators gather in front of the Queen Victoria Memorial at the gates of Buckingham Palace (PA)
Demonstrators gather in front of the Queen Victoria Memorial at the gates of Buckingham Palace (PA)

Officers were deployed outside Buckingham Palace as large crowds of protesters gathered on the steps of the Queen Victoria memorial opposite the palace gates with banners and placards, calling for “freedom”.

Piers Corbyn, brother of former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, also attended the protest.

Once at Parliament Square, the protesters likely had company in the form of a pantomime cow and a group of chlorinated chickens, who gathered on Saturday to protest against a proposed trade deal between Britain and the US.

Demonstrators also included a Donald Trump impersonator holding a syringe labelled "hormones" as they called for opposition to the lowering of UK food import standards.

One protester was seen carrying a sign saying 'This is now tyranny' (PA)
One protester was seen carrying a sign saying 'This is now tyranny' (PA)

Around 50 people were in Parliament Square in Westminster for the protest, organised by the Stop Trump Coalition, with War on Want Banners and demonstrators playing music and dancing.

It comes with just over a week to go before the US election.

Organisers said any negotiated deal would be a "horror story" and a serious threat to the NHS, UK food standards and democracy.

"Donald Trump's administration has been one of the most racist and toxic in American history, from the brutal repression of Black Lives Matter protests, the Muslim ban, the torture of migrants and climate change denial," they said.

"None of this has deterred the UK Government from trying to deepen our relationship with the US through a trade deal.

"Boris Johnson has made it clear that he wants a deal with the US - and Donald Trump has said that everything is on the table."

Asked if she opposed the lowering of UK food import standards, Daisy the pantomime cow nodded and mooed.

Police officers stand guard as anti-lockdown protesters take march in London (REUTERS)
Police officers stand guard as anti-lockdown protesters take march in London (REUTERS)

Armed police officers have now dispersed the large crowds of anti-lockdown protesters at Trafalgar Square following a march through central London.

Commander Ade Adelekan, leading today’s police operation, said: “Throughout the day, officers have been managing a number of complex protests at various locations across central London. One demonstration in particular attracted a large number of protesters and I became increasingly concerned that those in the crowd were not maintaining social distancing or adhering to the terms of their own risk assessment.

“Organisers did not take reasonable steps to keep protesters safe which then voided their risk assessment. At this point, officers then took action to disperse crowds in the interests of public safety.

“I am grateful that the vast majority of people listened to officers and quickly left the area. Frustratingly, a small minority became obstructive, deliberately ignoring officers’ instructions and blocking Westminster Bridge.

“Although the majority of protests have concluded, our policing operation will continue into the night and I would urge Londoners to stick to the regulations, avoid gathering in large numbers and maintain social distancing.”

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