The individuals in charge of the pro-Palestine demonstration scheduled for Armistice Day in London anticipate a turnout of “hundreds of thousands” of individuals, making it one of the largest mass protests in Britain.
The Metropolitan police announced that the handling of the remembrance weekend would be more challenging and intricate than previous years. They also stated that officers would utilize a wide range of authority to ensure no disruptions occur, including strict limitations on protester’s movements.
The director of the PSC, Ben Jamal, stated that he was aware of individuals from various parts of the UK who would be coming to participate in the march on Saturday, which will start from Park Lane and head towards the US embassy in south-west London.
At a platform erected close to the junction of Nine Elms and Battersea Park Road, addresses will be delivered by ex-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, actresses Juliet Stevenson and Maxine Peake, and the head of the Palestinian mission to the UK, Husam Zomlot, along with other speakers.
Jamal expressed his belief that the event will be significant. The PSC released a statement predicting that over half a million individuals will gather in London for the march, making it a historic political demonstration in British history.
Senior officers are certain that there will be points of conflict on Saturday, as there are worries that some groups may break away from the main march to cause disturbance, and there is also a concern that extremist factions may take advantage of the event.
The police rejected the organizers’ plea for two endpoints for the march on Thursday, citing concerns about the burden on their stewards. However, they maintain their belief that the event will proceed peacefully.
Individuals are requested to gather at Park Lane around noon before commencing the march at 12:45pm. The route includes passing through Grosvenor Place and Victoria, then proceeding over Vauxhall Road to Nine Elms and the US embassy. The organizers will instruct marchers to disperse at 4pm, as the police have set a deadline of 5pm for the march to conclude.
The Metropolitan Police announced that 1,850 officers will be working under the direction of deputy assistant commissioner Laurence Taylor. In addition, a mutual aid system has been activated, bringing in approximately 780 officers from outside London. Leave for public order units and other response teams within the Met has been canceled.
Sir Mark Rowley, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, has stated that he is diligently monitoring for any recent information that may warrant the pursuit of a ban from the Home Secretary under section 13 of the 1986 Public Order Act.
Similar to past protests, the march will be subject to restrictions outlined in section 12 of the act. This means that any participants who deviate from the predetermined route starting at Hyde Park may face a fine of up to £2,500. Additionally, an exclusion zone will be in place for Whitehall, Horse Guards Parade, and the Westminster Abbey Field of Remembrance, where marchers will not be allowed to enter.
The Cenotaph will be continuously monitored by police throughout the weekend. Demonstrators will not be permitted near the US embassy or to congregate in the vicinity of the Israeli embassy on High Street Kensington. The Metropolitan Police has declared that those who refuse to disperse from prominent locations in central London, such as Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus, will face potential arrest.
Police officers in Westminster, Lambeth, and Wandsworth have been given the authority to perform section 60 and 60AA stop and search measures. This includes the ability to ask a protester to remove any clothing that is hiding their identity. The Metropolitan Police stated that this decision was made due to fears that counter-protesters may try to confront those participating in the primary protest march.
Rishi Sunak has said he has been assured by Rowley that the Met will be able to prevent “serious public disorder”, with the government seemingly happy to pin blame on Britain’s most senior police chief in the event of disaster.
A coalition of organizations, including the PSC, the Muslim Association of Britain, Friends of Al-Aqsa, Palestinian Forum in Britain, Stop the War, and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), has coordinated the march.
The chief steward of the protest, Chris Nineham of Stop the War, had the same role for the 15 February 2003 anti-war protest against the invasion of Iraq – the largest ever such event in the UK, when an estimated 1.5 million people marched on the streets of London. He will be directing a team of 500 volunteer stewards on Saturday.
Since Hamas triggered the war with Israel on 7 October by killing 1,400 people and taking approximately 240 hostages, there have been a series of marches and assemblies in London and around the UK calling for a ceasefire. The largest attracted 100,000 people, according to police.
Nineham stated that this upcoming demonstration will be significantly larger than previous ones. He believes it will surpass all others in size. According to him, a single coach agency in northern England has already reserved 250 coaches for the event.
According to him, the Winter Wonderland event will prevent people from gathering in Hyde Park, which adds to the complexity of the situation.
Nineham expressed worry that the government’s language could potentially escalate conflict at the edges of the protest. This includes individuals like Tommy Robinson, the leader of the far-right English Defence League, who are attempting to rally supporters.
“I believe we are facing challenging conditions both politically and in practice,” stated Nineham. “This is due in part to the government’s efforts to vilify us and spread false information about our motives, deliberately inciting opposition towards us. Their actions can be seen as a rallying cry, which has unfortunately been heeded by Tommy Robinson.”