LONDON (AFP) – Almost 2,000 police officers were on duty yesterday when more than 100,000 pro-Palestinian supporters were expected to through London, with extra powers in place to protect landmarks honouring Britain’s war dead.
Pro-Palestinian marches have been held in the United Kingdom (UK) capital over recent weekends, with police making almost 100 arrests for offences including supporting banned organisations and serious hate crimes.
But yesterday’s march promised to be more fraught as it coincides with Armistice Day, which commemorates those who have died in conflict since World War I.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made a late plea for peaceful demonstrations “It is because of those who fought for this country and for the freedom we cherish that those who wish to protest can do so, but they must do so respectfully and peacefully,” Sunak said in a statement released late Friday.
It will be a “particularly challenging and tense weekend”, Metropolitan Police deputy assistant commissioner Laurence Taylor told a media briefing on Friday.
Police said that previous events had seen “small groups break away” and that “their behaviour has been escalating and becoming more violent”. As a result, metal barriers were placed around the area containing the most significant memorials, with police able to arrest any marchers attempting to gather there.