More than half a million pro-Palestinian protestors will march in London on Armistice Day, organisers say as Met police draft in 1,000 reinforcements to form ‘ring of steel’
More than half a million pro-Palestine protestors will march in London on Armistice Day, organisers have predicted – as the Met Police drafts in 1,000 reinforcements to protect remembrance events.
The Stop the War coalition said coach companies across the country are reporting that all their vehicles are fully booked, with waiting lists in some areas.
John Rees, from the group, said the protest in London will be ‘truly historic’, exceeding the half a million he believes joined a previous protest in the capital.
‘We are convinced it will be the biggest demonstration so far over Palestine,’ he said. ‘Our local groups up and down the country have reported they’ve sold out of seats on hundreds of coaches.’
Lindsey German, the group’s convenor, said: ‘Our local groups in towns and cities across the UK, along with coach companies, are telling us that every one of their coaches have been booked to bring people to London. This is comparable only to two million strong protest against the Iraq War in 2003.’
Organisers have predicted that half a million pro-Palestine protestors will march in London on Armistice Day. Pictured is a march last Saturday
Sir Mark said officers would ‘protect locations and events of national importance at all costs’. Pictured: Police officers guard ‘The Cenotaph’ on October 28
Police guarding the Cenotaph this morning. The Met has vowed to ‘protect locations and events of national importance at all costs’
Met Police chief Sir Mark Rowley has refused to ban the controversial rally, saying he legally had ‘no power’ to stop it.
It is being held on the same day that a two-minute silence will take place at the Cenotaph.
While march organisers have vowed not to go near the monument, there are fears splinter groups could clash with football hooligans who have vowed to ‘defend’ it.
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Sir Mark said his officers would ‘protect locations and events of national importance at all costs’.
He said he could not ban Saturday’s demonstration simply because people felt it should not take place.
‘The laws created by Parliament are clear. There is no absolute power to ban protest, therefore there will be a protest this weekend,’ he insisted.
‘The law provides no mechanism to ban a static gathering of people. It contains legislation which allows us to impose conditions to reduce disruption and the risk of violence, and in the most extreme cases when no other tactics can work, for marches or moving protests to be banned.’
Sir Mark said organisers of Saturday’s march had shown ‘complete willingness to stay away from the Cenotaph and Whitehall and have no intention of disrupting the nation’s remembrance events’.
‘Should this change, we’ve been clear we will use powers and conditions available to us to protect locations and events of national importance at all costs,’ he said.
Gangs of football hooligans have said they are planning to ‘team up’ and ‘protect’ the Cenotaph from pro-Palestine protestors this weekend.
Demonstrators waving Palestine flags in Trafalgar Square during last Saturday’s protest
Police officers detain a protestor during a ‘March For Palestine’, in London on November 4
Sir Mark Rowley said use of the power to block moving protests is ‘incredibly rare’ and must be reserved for cases where there is intelligence to suggest a ‘real threat’ of serious disorder. Pictured: Poppy vendor counter is disturbed by pro-Palestinian demonstrators
One group, named ‘Football Lads Against Extremism’, claims veterans have reached out and asked for their support ‘due to the threat from the far-Left and pro-Palestine supporters to disrupt the Remembrance Day parade’.
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They are calling on ‘all football lads up and down the country to join us in standing shoulder to shoulder with our veterans that fought for our freedom’.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman has controversially accused the police of ‘playing favourites’ with protesters by clamping down hard on Right-wing demonstrations while taking a softly-softly approach to those organised by groups on the Left.
In an article in The Times, she repeated her description of pro-Palestinian demonstrations as ‘hate marches’ – a phrase no other minister had publicly endorsed, but which supporters say is backed up by examples of ugly anti-Semitism on previous protests.
Earlier in the week Rishi Sunak took a more measured tone insisting that he would hold Sir Mark ‘accountable’ for what happened at the protest.
A policeman holding a surveillance camera while shouting at a protestor during a pro-Palestine march on November 4
Pro-Palestine protesters this morning outside a BAE Systems plant in Chatham, Rochester
Today, National Police Chiefs’ Council chairman Gavin Stephens said that political views could not be allowed to influence decision making.
Mr Stephens said: ‘In policing we need the space to make difficult operational decisions in an independent manner.
‘That space is set out very clearly in law in the Policing Protocol Order which was refreshed earlier this year.
‘The decisions that we take are not easy ones, but we do so impartially, without fear or favour, and in line with both the law and our authorised professional practice.’
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