Ten arrests after police injured in clashes with anti-lockdown protesters
Written by on 26 September 2020
At least four police officers and three demonstrators have been injured during clashes at an anti-lockdown protest in London’s Trafalgar Square, while 10 people have been arrested.
Two of the officers injured needed hospital treatment, the Metropolitan Police said.
Dozens of police wore riot helmets as they penned in demonstrators and conspiracy theorists, trying to shut down the “We Do Not Consent” rally.
The crowd of thousands threw bottles at the officers and chanted “pick your side”, while police used batons against them and left some with visible injuries.
While protests are exempt from the “rule of six” in England, organisers must submit a risk assessment and comply with social distancing – rules police said were communicated to the organisers.
Met Police released a statement saying those who stayed could face criminal penalties as they “have not complied with the conditions of their risk assessment and are putting people in danger of transmitting the virus”.
“This has voided their risk assessment and we have informed the event organisers they are no longer exempt from the regulations,” the force said.
“We are now asking those in Trafalgar Square to leave. Officers will be engaging with crowds and informing them of this development.
A post on a Met Police Twitter page read that some crowds moved towards Hyde Park.
“We want to be clear, this protest is no longer exempt from the regulations,” it said.
“We are asking those attending to disperse. Sadly, some officers have been injured while engaging with people.”
At least three protesters were also treated by medical staff.
Signs, placards and flags with various anti-government signs were held up, with few face masks and no social distancing in sight.
Officers were seen searching a man and confiscating a makeshift riot shield he was carrying.
Among the speakers who argued that they were standing up for freedom of expression and human rights was conspiracy theorist David Icke, who was met with repeated chants of “freedom”.
London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, tweeted that the protest was ” not acceptable”.
“I urge all protestors to leave now. Large gatherings are banned for a reason – you are putting the safety of our city at risk,” he wrote.
The debate around acceptable government control during the pandemic has heightened as parliament prepares to review its COVID-19 legislation and the government considers further restrictions to control the disease.
Some lawmakers have criticised the government for implementing the rules without parliamentary approval.
Last week, another anti-lockdown protest in Trafalgar Square saw more than a dozen officers injured when demonstrators clashed with police and 32 people were arrested.
Hundreds of people attended that rally and some became involved in “outbreaks of violence towards officers”, the Metropolitan Police said at the time.