London protests: Seven charged and 145 arrested as police appeals continue

London protests: Seven charged and 145 arrested as police appeals continue

LONDON — Seven men have been charged over disorder on Armistice Day for offences including inciting racial hatred.

The Met Police said 145 people were arrested — the “vast majority” of whom were counter-protesters — and nine officers were injured on Saturday.

It condemned violence from right-wing counter-protesters who it says set out to confront the pro-Palestinian march.

Investigations into other offenses — including antisemitic hate crimes — continue, police said.

The pro-Palestinian demonstration — which coincided with Armistice Day — saw some 300,000 people march through central London calling for a Gaza ceasefire.

It was the biggest UK rally since the war between Israel and Hamas began on 7 October.

Police added while the march itself did not see such physical violence, other serious offenses were being investigated.

The seven men, aged between 23 and 75, have been charged over offenses including possession of weapons, public order, possession of drugs and assault on an emergency worker.

Two of those charged live in London, with the others coming from across the UK, including Norfolk, Flintshire, Kent, Manchester and West Lothian.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said those involved in crimes must face the full force of the law, with the “despicable actions of a minority of people” undermining “those who have chosen to express their views peacefully”.

He added that “EDL [English Defense League] thugs attacking police and trespassing on the Cenotaph” war memorial had disrespected the honour of the UK’s armed forces.

On Saturday, the Met’s Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist said the violence directed toward officers was “extraordinary and deeply concerning”, with nine injured after counter-protesters clashed with police.

“They arrived early, stating they were there to protect monuments, but some were already intoxicated, aggressive and clearly looking for confrontation,” he said.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman said on Sunday it was “an outrage” that several officers had been injured, thanking them for “their professionalism in the face of violence and aggression from protesters and counter-protesters”.

She is currently under pressure after criticising police ahead of the march and there have been calls for her to be sacked, with some ministers distancing themselves from her comments.

Twist said the pro-Palestinian march “did not see the sort of physical violence carried out by the right wing”, but “a number of serious offences identified in relation to hate crime and possible support for proscribed organisations” during the protest were being investigated.

Police issued five photos of six individuals suspected of hate crimes.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor, who led Saturday’s policing operation, said: “We urge anyone who has information about the identity of suspects, or who has footage or photos of further potential offences, to get in touch so we can take the appropriate action.”

The force has issued an appeal for information regarding videos filmed in Waterloo and Victoria stations showing “unacceptable abuse including antisemitic language, as well as threatening behavior”.

Footage shared on social media showed Michael Gove ushered through London’s Victoria Station by police officers, as crowds waving Palestinian flags shouted: “Shame on you.”

On Sunday, the Levelling Up Secretary addressed the incident on X, formerly Twitter, thanking police for their “exemplary work in getting me home safely yesterday”.

On the pro-Palestinian march, chants of “free Palestine” and “ceasefire now” could be heard as crowds began marching from London’s Hyde Park.

At one point the march, organized by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, extended from the Hilton Hotel in Park Lane to the US Embassy in Nine Elms — a distance of roughly 2.5 miles.

The Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph, led by the King, passed without incident. — BBC

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