Protesters participate in a pro-Palestinian demonstration in London, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023.
The Metropolitan Police has urged organisers of pro-Palestinian demonstrations not to go ahead with any protests planned this weekend when Armistice Day will be marked.
In a statement, London’s police forced cited concerns over “violence and disorder” from “breakaway groups”. But the Monday night plea appeared to have been rejected by one of the main organisers of the march.
More than 70,000 people are expected to attend the demonstration in central London on Saturday on Armistice Day, when veterans plan to gather at the Cenotaph to commemorate Britain’s war dead.
Protest organisers have pledged to avoid the Whitehall area where the Cenotaph is located.
Deputy assistant commissioner Ade Adelekan, who leads public order policing in the capital, said: “The risk of violence and disorder linked to breakaway groups is growing.
“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.”
— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) November 6, 2023
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign, one of the march’s organisers, said it was “deeply concerned” by the Met statement, and said it was “categorically not true that the police told us that it was not appropriate to protest this weekend”.
In a statement signed by five other campaign groups, it added: “The idea that it is acceptable for Israel to keep bombing and killing Palestinians in Gaza, including over 4,000 children, but not for people to protest peacefully against these crimes is grotesque.”
Home secretary Suella Braverman welcomed the Met’s statement. “The hate marchers need to understand that decent British people have had enough of these displays of thuggish intimidation and extremism,” she said.
Attention will now turn to Section 13 of the Public Order Act 1986, which allows the banning of a procession when there is a risk of serious disorder. The Met must prove the threshold for a Section 13 order has been met before seeking approval from the home secretary to sign off on a ban.