Eleven people arrested at pro-Palestine demonstration in London

By John Mercury February 18, 2024

Twelve people have been arrested at a pro-Palestine march in central London.

The Metropolitan Police said the arrests were for placard-related offences, assaults on officers and refusal to remove face coverings.

A pro-Palestinian car convoy was also stopped in Neasden, northwest London.

Police said in previous years, convoys have driven through areas with significant Jewish communities causing fear for residents, so specialist traffic officers and a police helicopter closely monitored the scene.

Police estimated that 30,000 people gathered for the demonstration in central London, with a dispersal order in place until 11pm, meaning anyone refusing a direction to leave the area can be arrested.

Police officers and protesters at pro-Palestinian demonstration. Pic: PA/Jordan Pettitt
Image:
Police officers and protesters at pro-Palestinian demonstration. Pic: PA/Jordan Pettitt

Jeremy Corbyn pictured among protesters
Image:
Jeremy Corbyn pictured among protesters

Around 1,500 police officers from forces across the UK are on the streets of London, with the protesters going along Park Lane, Knightsbridge and Kensington Road, then ending at the junction with Kensington Court.

According to the Campaign Against Antisemitism, organisers advertised a start time of 12.30pm, but Met Police said starting at 1.30pm would allow time for a synagogue event to finish.

Mounted police officers watch over protest. Pic: PA/Jordan Pettitt
Image:
Mounted police officers watch over protest. Pic: PA/Jordan Pettitt

Speakers addressed crowds near the Israeli embassy before the demonstration ended at around 6pm.

The Met said “there will be some who ask why” a decision to allow the protest so close to the embassy was allowed but that it is a “common misconception” that forces can allow or refuse permission for a protest to take place.

There must be “a real risk of serious disorder” sufficient for police to request that the home secretary ban the protest, which the Met said was not expected on Saturday.

Protesters were kept more than 100m away from the embassy grounds, behind barriers controlled by officers.

Signs being held at march in central London. Pic: PA/Jordan Pettitt
Image:
Signs being held at march in central London. Pic: PA/Jordan Pettitt

Precautions were also taken to ensure the presence of protesters did not unnecessarily disrupt other sensitive premises, including synagogues, either near the start or along the route.

Police also said no gazebos or other stalls could be erected in a specified area at Marble Arch and that anyone participating in the march must not deviate from the route.

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Ahead of the protest, Commander Kyle Gordon, who led the policing operation, said: “We are there to ensure protests take place lawfully, minimising disruption to the life of the wider public and in a way that gives due consideration to the cumulative impact on London’s communities and those who feel most vulnerable in the current climate.

“The protests we have seen since October have thankfully been largely peaceful and we must take this into account in our policing approach. I hope the same will be true this Saturday.

“Unfortunately, despite this, we have regularly seen officers having to deal with offences related to placards and other hate speech.

“We do not underestimate the fear this causes, nor the impact of such criminal and unacceptable behaviour on wider community relations,” Commander Gordon added.

“I would appeal to all those attending the protest on Saturday to act within the law and to consider the impact of their actions on the safety and security of others. We will not hesitate to take action against those who fail to do so.”

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