Scotland Yard urges protesters to call off Armistice Day march

Scotland Yard urges protesters to call off Armistice Day march

London, Nov 7 (PTI) Scotland Yard have issued an appeal to protesters planning demonstrations against the Israel-Gaza conflict on the streets of London this weekend to postpone their plans amid fears of criminal acts by breakaway groups on Armistice Day.

The Metropolitan Police said on Monday that it held meetings with organisers from a range of groups to ask them to reconsider organising marches that coincide with the commemoration of Britain’s war martyrs annually, on November 11.

However, the organisers have declined to postpone their plans for another demonstration in line with the past few weekends when thousands have marched through the streets of London.

Several arrests have been made for criminal offences, including racially motivated attacks, with over 1,000 officers on duty to police the protest last weekend.

'The risk of violence and disorder linked to breakaway groups is growing,' said Met Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Ade Adelekan.

“This is of concern ahead of a significant and busy weekend in the capital. Our message to organisers is clear: Please, we ask you to urgently reconsider. It is not appropriate to hold any protests in London this weekend,' he said.

Both British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Home Secretary Suella Braverman have issued statements to say that it is “provocative and disrespectful” to hold protests as the UK marks Armistice Day – a sombre occasion held annually when commemorative wreaths are laid at the war memorials on Whitehall near Downing Street.

“I welcome this statement from the Met Police. The hate marchers need to understand that decent British people have had enough of these displays of thuggish intimidation and extremism,” said Braverman, amid calls for a ban on protests this weekend.

The Met Police can apply to the Home Secretary to ban a protest if they fear serious disorder, but they are trying to balance the right to peaceful protest with security concerns.

“Senior officers are concerned at criminal acts by breakaway groups intent on fuelling disorder who are attracted by these regular events… We are constantly examining the intelligence ahead of the weekend to understand the issues in order to respond appropriately,” the Met Police said.

Britain’s largest police force revealed that since October 7, when the Israel-Hamas conflict was unleashed, more than 160 people have been arrested for a range of offences, including racially motivated public offences, violence and assaulting police officers.

“There has been an escalation in violence and disorder linked to protests, often perpetrated by breakaway groups who have no interest in demonstration causes,” the police said.

Hate crime has also been on the rise significantly, including one suspect using a loudspeaker arrested last Saturday on suspicion of making antisemitic comments, it added. More than 554 reports of antisemitic offences and 220 Islamophobic offences have been received between October 1 and November 1 by the police.

Meanwhile, the organisers of the protest on Saturday indicated that the route of their pro-Palestinian march does not involve Whitehall, which would be the focus of the national remembrance including a two-minute silence at 11 am local time.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign, one of the organisers of the “National March for Palestine Ceasefire Now” march, insisted “our marches are peaceful, well organised and a fundamental democratic right”. PTI AK RUP RUP

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