Pro Palestine protest London: 29 protestors arrested after fireworks fired at police officers leaving four injured
Police arrested 29 protestors at a pro-Palestine march in London after fireworks were fired at officers leaving four injured
Tens of thousands of protesters joined pro-Palestine marches across the UK yesterday (Saturday 4 November) calling for an end to Israeli attacks in Gaza. Oxford Circus was brought to a standstill and a total of 29 arrests were made in the capital 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. Hundreds of demonstrators stopped traffic for more than an hour as they staged a sit-in at the corner of Oxford Circus and Regent Street during the day before descending on Trafalgar Square.
Later in the evening, police said some demonstrators launched fireworks into crowds and toward officers, resulting in a dispersal order being issued to clear the area. At around 7:20pm yesterday the Metropolitan Police posted on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter: “A Section 35 Dispersal Order has been authorised by Superintendent May- Robinson at 1843 hours in order to disperse a group on Trafalgar Square who have been firing fireworks into crowds & towards police officers. The Dispersal Order will remain in place until 0100 hours 5/11/23.”
Commander Karen Findlay said fireworks were “directed towards officers and four officers were injured.” Commander Findlay added that it is “disappointing that various splinter groups were again responsible for behaviour which has no place in London and we are determined to deal with this robustly.”
The Met enacted emergency measures last night at 6:43pm as the presence in Trafalgar Square continued. The order brought in covered the square and much of the surrounding area, meaning anyone who refused to leave the area when asked could be arrested. Simultaneously, a Section 60AA Order was enacted just before 7.30pm giving police “the power to require someone to remove any item that is being used to conceal their identity” which could include balaclavas and scarves. This order applied to the borough of the City of Westminster until 2am.
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.
It comes as tensions mount ahead of pro-Palestinian marches planned for Armistice Day next weekend. On Friday (3 November) a row erupted when the prime minister backed a crackdown on what he condemned as “provocative and disrespectful” pro-Palestine marches due to be held on Armistice Day.
Speaking to Trevor Phillips on Sky News this morning (Sunday 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 protestors said previous marches had attracted 100,000 people and that 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.