UK police leaflet Israel-Hamas conflict protesters to warn against racist chants

UK police leaflet Israel-Hamas conflict protesters to warn against racist chants

London, Nov 25 (PTI) The Metropolitan Police in London are using leaflets warning protesters against using racist language or inciteful activities that could lead to their arrest as another set of demonstrations related to the Israel-Hamas conflict hits the streets on Saturday.

Organisers expect 100,000 people to demonstrate in London on Saturday with up to 50,000 planning to attend a march against antisemitism on Sunday. The Met Police said more than 1,500 officers will be on duty this weekend, including 500 from outside London, and that there will be “robust intervention” against any criminal activities.

“The conflict in the Middle East is continuing and here in London we are still seeing the cumulative impact of continued protest, increasing tensions, and rising hate crime,” said Deputy Assistant Commissioner Ade Adelekan, who will lead the Met’s policing operation this weekend.

“That fear and anxiety is particularly felt by our Jewish and Muslim communities. We know a lot more about the cumulative impact of these protests than we did seven weeks ago and that is reflected in our approach,” he said.

He said the public will see further communication over the weekend, both online and in the form of leaflets, which officers will share with protesters along the march route.

“As you would expect, this sets out that anyone who is racist or incites hatred against any group should expect to be arrested. As should anyone who supports Hamas or any other banned organisation. We will not tolerate anyone who celebrates or promotes acts of terrorism – such as the killing or kidnap of innocent people – or who spreads hate speech,” said Adelekan.

With reference to a static protest planned by the Hizb-ut-Tahrir group at the Egyptian Embassy in London, the force issued a specific warning against chants of “jihad” which had been heard at the outfit’s last protest on October 21.

“There was considerable debate about the use of the word ‘jihad’… It is a word that clearly causes upset and concern, but it’s always contextual. If we think people are chanting this to incite violence, terrorism or antisemitism – we will act decisively and quickly,” the Met Police statement warns.

The force said it has been “working positively” with organisers, including the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), and that they will have extra stewards as well who have agreed with the police to be clear in their communications about how supporters must behave.

“The Met supports the right for people to make their voices heard through protest providing it is done lawfully. However, the law also protects people from racist and religious abuse and prohibits the promotion of terrorism. While the majority of protesters have complied with these rules, a minority have crossed the line,” added Adelekan.

The Met Police urged fellow protesters that if they spot behaviour that has crossed the line into criminality, they must challenge it or to report it immediately to one of the officers present for them to “act quickly”.

Under the weekend policing plans, there will be trained spotters at specific points of the march looking out for criminal activity, including hate placards and clothing, and identifying those responsible. They will also be using technology to identify and track offenders within large groups of people and deploying intervention teams where they need to extract suspects.

The use of retrospective facial recognition will enable the police to compare an image caught on CCTV, or other footage, against a vast database of custody images. It can be used after an event or incident as part of a criminal investigation and speeds up the identification, and elimination, of suspects.

As with previous protests, strict timing and boundary limits have been set for the marches and police officers on duty will be “using all the legal powers at our disposal” to ensure dispersal at the end of the march to avoid breakaway groups which cause serious disruption, fear and intimidation. PTI AK RUP RUP

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