Chaotic Scenes Unfold as Over 100 Arrested During Protest in the UK

credit: haaretz

UK ( Parliament Politics Maganize ) More than 100 individuals were apprehended following tumultuous incidents that unfolded amid pro-Palestinian and counter protests in London. Demonstrators engaged in clashes with law enforcement and launched fireworks in the streets.

On Saturday, hundreds of thousands of pro-Palestinian advocates partook in the largest march to date in London, urging a ceasefire in Israel’s conflict with Gaza. Concurrently, sizable groups of counter-protesters assembled on Armistice Day, a day marked by solemn ceremonies at war memorials in Britain to honor its war dead.

Large Scale Protests Going On

Despite a week of heightened tensions, the march proceeded, with the government advocating for its cancellation and the police reporting numerous arrests. Around 150 individuals from the large-scale protest were apprehended under public order legislation for donning face coverings and igniting fireworks. Additionally, 82 counter-protesters were detained to thwart their potential infiltration of the main march. Law enforcement seized an arsenal of weapons from the counter-protesters, including knives and a knuckle duster.

Approximately 1,850 police officers, including personnel from various forces across Britain, were deployed to maintain order. Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist remarked, “This operation unfolded in unique circumstances, set against the backdrop of Middle East conflict, on Armistice Day, and in the aftermath of a week marked by intense debates about protest and policing. These factors collectively heightened community tensions.

He further noted that the “extraordinary and deeply concerning” aspect of the situation was the “extreme violence” exhibited by the counter-protesters. “They arrived early, stating they were there to protect monuments, but some were already intoxicated, aggressive and clearly looking for confrontation,” continued the Assistant Commissioner. “Abuse was directed at officers protecting the Cenotaph, including chants of ‘you’re not English any more’.”

Chaotic Footage as Protesters Clash with Police

He mentioned that on Saturday, nine officers sustained injuries, with two of them requiring hospital treatment for a fractured elbow and a suspected dislocated hip. The march commenced following a two-minute silence observed at The Cenotaph war memorial in central London. Demonstrators, waving Palestinian flags in black, red, white, and green, displayed placards with messages like “Stop Bombing Gaza.”

Instances of fireworks being hurled at police, with some striking officers in the face, were reported in the Westminster area, including Parliament Square and Whitehall. Footage shared on X depicted protesters igniting “rocket fireworks” on streets leading to Victoria.

Conflicts between counter-protesters and pro-Palestine demonstrations also unfolded at London’s Trafalgar Square. Disturbing images depicted a female counter-protester attempting to kick a pro-Palestine marcher, while another man approached them brandishing a large wooden stick.

 It’s worth noting that not all participants in the counter demonstration engaged in violence; many paused to observe the two-minute silence at 11 am.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who has resisted calls to endorse a ceasefire in Israel’s conflict with Hamas, expressed condemnation for the presence of far-right “thugs,” anti-Semitic chants, and displays of pro-Hamas signs and clothing during the remembrance weekend.

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Government Minister Mobbed

Video footage captured the UK’s Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities, Michael Gove, being surrounded by pro-Palestinian supporters carrying placards and flags as he traversed Victoria station. Protesters vocalized “shame on you” while Mr. Gove moved through the crowd, escorted by police. Law enforcement was observed instructing people to step back and actively working to create space in the midst of the commotion.

Sarah Vine, Mr. Gove’s former wife, assured The Daily Mail that Mr. Gove is “fine” following the incident. She noted that the situation could have escalated further if the police hadn’t intervened promptly. She remarked, “He remained very calm, which is typical of him. Most people would have been terrified.”

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak denounced both far-right protesters associated with the English Defence League (EDL) and sympathizers of Hamas. In a statement, he condemned the “violent, wholly unacceptable scenes” from these groups during the ‘National March for Palestine,’ emphasizing that the actions of a minority undermine those expressing their views peacefully. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak condemned far-right protesters and individuals sympathetic to Hamas.

 “I condemn the violent, wholly unacceptable scenes we have seen today from the EDL (English Defence League) and associated groups and Hamas sympathizers attending the ‘National March for Palestine’. “The despicable actions of a minority of people undermine those who have chosen to express their views peacefully.”

Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.