The head of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Mark Rowley, has announced that the pro-Palestinian protest scheduled for Armistice Day will go ahead. He emphasized that measures would be taken to ensure the protest does not interfere with remembrance and armistice events. Sir Mark Rowley explained that legally, it is not possible to ban a gathering or static protest, but if a march towards the rally were to occur, the police could consider banning it. However, he assured the public that banning the march is a last resort and has not been deemed necessary at this stage. The prime minister and the home secretary have expressed their concerns about the protest, fearing that it may lead to trouble and the defacement of war memorials such as the Cenotaph. The Metropolitan Police is collaborating with the organizers to finalize plans and explore additional conditions that may be required.
Government and Public Figures Voice Opposition to Armistice Day March
Several government officials and prominent figures have condemned the pro-Palestinian march on Armistice Day. Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, described the march as “provocative and disrespectful” and urged that it should not be allowed. Home Secretary Suella Braverman deemed it “entirely unacceptable to desecrate Armistice Day with a hate march through London” and urged swift legal action against anyone attempting to vandalize the Cenotaph. Their views are shared by many who believe that Armistice Day should be a solemn occasion of remembrance without any political demonstrations.
The organizers of the pro-Palestinian protest have stated that their demonstration will take place away from the Cenotaph. They have confirmed that the march will go from Hyde Park to the US embassy and will commence after the 11am silence observed on Armistice Day. They emphasize that their intention is not to disrupt the remembrance events but to voice their concerns and raise awareness about the plight of Palestinians. However, concerns about potential “splinter groups” and “troublemakers” have been raised by authorities.
Although the Metropolitan Police have expressed concerns about the possibility of disorder and troublemakers, Sir Mark Rowley highlighted that the number of arrests made during previous protests has been relatively small compared to the significantly larger crowds in attendance. While he declined to comment on the home secretary’s description of the events as “hate marches,” he emphasized that his role is to focus on operational facts rather than engaging in debates.
In recent weeks, tens of thousands of individuals in London have participated in protests denouncing the casualties resulting from the Israel-Hamas conflict in Palestine. The Metropolitan Police reported 29 arrests during a protest held last Saturday, where offenses ranged from assaulting police officers to supporting a terror organization and inciting racial hatred. Furthermore, five arrests occurred at a separate pro-Palestinian demonstration at King’s Cross station. Although these protests have drawn significant attention and raised concerns about public safety, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign has reiterated its commitment to working with the police to ensure the well-being of participants.
Despite concerns expressed by government officials and the police, the pro-Palestinian protest on Armistice Day is set to proceed. The Metropolitan Police have assured the public that measures will be in place to prevent any interference with the remembrance and armistice events. While the organizers have pledged to keep the protest away from the Cenotaph and commence after the 11am silence, concerns about potential disorder and troublemakers persist. As the protest unfolds, it remains to be seen how these concerns will be addressed and whether significant disruptions or incidents will occur.