The London police were close to prohibiting the pro-Palestine march scheduled for Saturday, stating that holding a protest on Remembrance Day would be unsuitable and could lead to violence.
Following a discussion between the protest leaders and the Metropolitan Police, a statement was released on Monday by deputy assistant commissioner Ade Adelekan, stating that there is an increasing danger of violence and chaos from splinter groups.
Adelekan expressed concern about the upcoming busy weekend in the capital. He urges organizers to reconsider and not hold any protests in London this weekend.
The organizers were accused of denying a request to delay the march.
On Monday night 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 posted on X, formerly Twitter.
The protest on Saturday will begin at 12:45pm on November 11th, which is Remembrance Day. It will start at Marble Arch and end at the US embassy in south-west London, approximately two miles away from the Cenotaph. The Cenotaph will host official remembrance events the following day.
The spokesperson for the prime minister deemed the scheduled event as “provocative” and “disrespectful” on Monday.
The demonstrators have been demanding a truce in the conflict that began a month ago when Hamas caused the death of 1,400 individuals in Israel and captured over 200 hostages. Gaza’s health authority reports that thousands of innocent civilians have lost their lives due to Israel’s military action.
The Metropolitan Police may request approval from the Home Secretary to enforce a prohibition according to section 13 of the Public Order Act 1986 if they determine that there is a potential for significant chaos and their requirements have been fulfilled.
Ben Jamal, the chief organizer of the demonstrations that have attracted large crowds in London over the past few weeks, expressed concern that the police may be facing increased political influence.
He stated that currently, there are no valid reasons for implementing a ban. In the past, it was mentioned that on November 11th, there would be no presence near the Cenotaph as it would be deemed inappropriate. The police have not informed us of any ban, but they are facing a lot of pressure.
Speaking earlier on Monday, Jonathan Hall, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, suggested he would be concerned by any attempt to ban the march. “My instinct must be that you should always err in favour of freedom of expression,” he said, adding that he hoped the protest would be closely controlled.
On Monday, the spokesperson for the prime minister stated that Rishi Sunak did not view the recent protests as “hate marches”, although some protesters used language that was deemed “extremely alarming” for Jewish communities.
The spokesperson stated that although there were instances of hateful actions at the marches, such as arrests for inciting racial hatred, it is still within people’s rights to peacefully express their views within the boundaries of the law.
“To plan these sorts of protests in and around Armistice Day is provocative, it’s disrespectful. Should memorials be desecrated or should we see some of the instances of racial hatred for which there were arrests at the weekend be expressed on these days? I think that would be an affront to the British public.”
Jamal said his organisation and others involved in arranging the marches would take legal advice if a ban was implemented. A further meeting between the organisers of the protests and the Met is expected on Tuesday.
In the past, the marches have passed through Parliament Square in the heart of London, but this Saturday’s route has been changed.
Jamal expressed a desire for a route that avoids Whitehall, but still has a clear political objective. This is why we decided to march to the US embassy, as they are the primary entity responsible for not advocating for a ceasefire in Israel.
“Our government is also at fault, but we are aware that it follows the lead of the US government.”
According to Akiko Hart, the temporary leader of Liberty, it is essential for individuals to have the ability to challenge authority and voice their opinions in a functional democracy. Restricting protests would be a violation of our fundamental right to freedom of speech and would only perpetuate further discord.