Police in London arrested 190 anti-lockdown protesters at the so-called ‘Million Mask March’ against the second national lockdown in England.
On November 5th — the anniversary of the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot to blow up the State Opening of Parliament in 1605, known as Guy Fawkes Night in Britain — the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS, or Met) prevented lockdown protesters from gathering in Trafalgar Square, forcing demonstrators onto the streets.
The MPS employed tactics such as kettling, in which lines of police separate crowds into small cordoned off areas, in order to prevent the protesters from massing and making it easier to arrest people.
All of the 190 people that were arrested were detained for “breaching the new coronavirus legislation” and will be investigated for a fixed penalty notice. One of those arrested is facing the maximum £10,000 fine, the police said in a statement.
In a Breitbart London exclusive video, police are seen arresting members of the protest for alleged breaches of the coronavirus restrictions. Police were also seen threatening to arrest a Santa Claus impersonator, who claimed that he was not part of the demonstration.
One officer was heard asking if the Santa Claus was “peaceful”, to which a bystander proclaimed: “Of course he’s peaceful!”
Exclusive Video: Watch Cops Storm, Forcibly Shut Down Peaceful Anti-Lockdown Protest in London https://t.co/KHEbyz6vvB
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) September 27, 2020
Breitbart London was told by police that journalists were also prohibited from the demo and that journalists who refused to vacate the area would be arrested.
Footage shared on social media purportedly showed police arresting a man who claimed to be a journalist, saying that he was violating the public health order. Other footage allegedly showed the police asking journalists if they have been “authorised” by the MPS press department to cover the event.
The Society of Editors (SoE) wrote to the Met and the Home Office to seek “urgent clarification” on whether journalists and photographers will still be exempt from the restrictions.
The executive director of the SoE, Ian Murray, said: “At the very least this is poor communication to frontline officers of the ruling by government that journalists are considered to be essential workers during this crisis.”
“At worst, this is an alarming disregard of the principles of a free media going about its lawful business.”
“It is frighteningly Kafkaesque for police to use the excuse that because a protest is considered to be against the law, journalists are also breaking the law by being there to cover what is taking place. That sort of logic is used by tyrants and totalitarian states the world over to suppress the truth,” Murray warned.
Delingpole: Bonfire Night Is Cancelled. Where Is Guy Fawkes When We Need Him? https://t.co/El48OOU1Of
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) November 5, 2020
Following reports of journalists and photographers being threatened with arrest at the protest, the MPS apologised for “any confusion or difficulties” experienced by journalists covering the event.
“The MPS absolutely recognises the status of journalists and the public interest in them carrying out their important work,” the statement seen by the Press Agency said.
“We have issued additional briefings to our officers to enable journalists to carry out their work, at the same time as our officers maintain public safety and enforce the law.”
It remains unclear how the police will handle any protests in the British capital from left-wing groups such as Black Lives Matter. Throughout the initial lockdown police forcibly shut down anti-lockdown protests while largely taking a ‘hands-off’ approach to BLM marches.
In June, the top police official in the country, Met commissioner Cressida Dick, said that the reason for the lax approach to BLM protests was due to fears of kicking off “serious disorder“.
“For anyone who plans to come out over the next four weeks, it is your responsibility to ensure we all comply with the current regulations. Officers will be out and about engaging with members of the public and the small minority who deliberately refuse to abide by the rules will see enforcement action being taken,” the MPS said.
WATCH: Police Standby as Hundreds of BLM Protesters Gather in London, While Cracking Down on Anti-Lockdown Demos https://t.co/quRdZ4BFx0
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) October 20, 2020
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