UK: Four cops injured after pro-Palestine protesters burst firecracker in rally; 29 held

After pro-Palestinian demonstrators detonated fireworks into crowds in central London, 29 people were arrested on suspicion of racially motivated offenses, resulting in the injuries of four police officers.

Tens of thousands of protesters marched against the Israel-Gaza war on Saturday, according to the Metropolitan Police, who reported that more than 1,300 officers were on duty. The police also indicated that they had taken a more aggressive and focused approach to intervening in the protests.

The demonstration coincided with calls for harsher action against radical acts at these protests, particularly one that is scheduled for next weekend to coincide with Armistice Day, which honors Britain’s war martyrs, from both Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Home Secretary Suella Braverman.

It is disappointing that various splinter groups were again responsible for behaviour which has no place in London, and we are determined to deal with this robustly. Fireworks were directed towards officers, and four officers were injured, said Met Police Commander Karen Findlay, who is responsible for policing in London this week.

We dealt with breakaway groups from the main protest quickly. Officers intervened to prevent further disruption, using the full range of powers at their disposal. This effective intervention ensured Londoners were able to go about their business, she said.

Of the 29 arrests, nine people were held for public order offences, including racially aggravated crimes; two were arrested on suspicion of breach of the UK’s Terrorism Act in relation to the wording of a banner; three were arrested for assaulting a police officer; 10 were arrested for breaching a police dispersal order; and the others have been held on suspicion of inciting racial hatred, causing actual bodily harm, violent disorder and possession of an offensive weapon.

I have full confidence in the Metropolitan Police to ensure public safety and take all factors into account as they have done in similar situations in the past, Braverman said ahead of the protests.

With a reference to similar protests planned next weekend, she noted, I agree with the Prime Minister. It is entirely unacceptable to desecrate Armistice Day with a hate march through London.”

If it goes ahead, there is an obvious risk of serious public disorder, violence and damage as well as offending millions of decent British people, she said.

Earlier this week, Sunak had posted a statement on X warning that a planned pro-Palestinian protest in London next weekend would be provocative and disrespectful, as he deputed his Home Secretary to intervene.

To plan protests on Armistice Day is provocative and disrespectful, and there is a clear and present risk that the Cenotaph and other war memorials could be desecrated, something that would be an affront to the British public and the values we stand for, said Sunak.

The right to remember, in peace and dignity, those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for those freedoms must be protected. I have asked the Home Secretary to support the Met Police in doing everything necessary to protect the sanctity of Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday, he said.

Armistice Day on November 11, also known as Remembrance Day, commemorates the end of hostilities during World War I in 1918 and honours the martyrs of both World Wars.

On Saturday, an estimated 30,000 demonstrators gathered in Trafalgar Square for a rally led by the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, and a group of protesters also brought traffic to a standstill on Oxford Street with a sit-in protest. In some train stations in London and Scotland, protesters staged sit-ins, with protests also taking place across other UK cities, including Manchester.

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