Palestine protest London: Calls grow for ‘disrespectful’ march on Armistice Day 2023 to be banned
Calls to ban a Palestinian march set to take place on Armistice Day this Remembrance weekend are mounting - with fears the Cenotaph ‘could be desecrated’
Police are considering whether to ban a controversial pro-Palestinian march in London set to take place on Armistice Day. The Metropolitan Police commissioner is facing growing calls to cancel the rally on Saturday (11 November) as there are fears that the protest will turn violent.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators are planning to take to the streets, calling for an immediate ceasefire in the Middle East on Saturday. Scotland Yard said it would use “all powers and tactics” at its disposal to prevent disruption, including Section 13 of the Public Order Act 1986, which allows the banning of a procession when there is a risk of serious disorder.
The Sun reports that war heroes want the march on Remembrance weekend to be cancelled, demanding “show some respect”. The Prime Minister said he wants police to act to "protect the sanctity of Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday" on 12 November.
Rishi Sunak added that the Cenotaph and other war memorials "could be desecrated" if pro-Palestinian protests go ahead. Writing on X, formerly known as Twitter, he said: “To plan protests on Armistice Day is provocative and disrespectful, and there is a clear and present risk that the Cenotaph and other war memorials could be desecrated, something that would be an affront to the British public and the values we stand for.”
Home Secretary Suella Braverman agrees with Sunak. She said "It is entirely unacceptable to desecrate Armistice Day with a hate march through London. If it goes ahead there is an obvious risk of serious public disorder, violence and damage as well as giving offence to millions of decent British people."
Speaking to Trevor Phillips on Sky News on Sunday morning (5 November) Deputy PM Oliver Dowden discussed his concerns about plans for a demonstration on Armistice Day in Central London. Dowden said there is "a lot of hate" in the pro-Palestinian protests, and that people who join them should "consider who they are marching alongside".
Organisers of the protests said previous marches had attracted 100,000 people and claims they were disrespectful were “dangerous and disingenuous”. They insisted they had no plans to disrupt the two-minute silence at 11am on Remembrance Sunday and that their route would avoid the Cenotaph altogether. The planned route will take them from Hyde Park – about a mile from the Cenotaph – to the US embassy in Vauxhall, south of the Thames.
In a statement, the protest organisers said: “We have made clear that we have no intention of marching on or near Whitehall, in order not to disrupt events at the Cenotaph.” They added that “we are alarmed by members of the government, including the Prime Minister, issuing statements suggesting that the march is a direct threat to the Cenotaph and designed to disrupt the Remembrance Day commemorations”.
It comes after pro-Palestinian protests this weekend in London turned violent, with police making 29 arrests including two people on suspicion of breaching the Terrorism Act over the wording of banners at the event. A man suspected of making anti-Semitic comments in a speech was also arrested while three others were arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer.
On Saturday night (4 November) police said some demonstrators launched fireworks into crowds and toward officers, resulting in a dispersal order being issued to clear the area. The Met were forced to enact emergency measures meaning anyone who refused to leave the area when asked could be arrested.
Similar protests took place in other towns and cities, including Sheffield, Manchester and Glasgow, with protestors leading chants of “Ceasefire now”, “From the river to the sea” and “Israel is a terror state”. Scotland Yard said officers have been “briefed to be vigilant and will proactively engage and enforce any allegations of crime” at such protests.