UK

More than 30 arrests as coronavirus conspiracy theorists clash with police at anti-lockdown protest

Thirty-two people have been arrested after conspiracy theorists clashed with police during a protest against coronavirus lockdown measures.

Hundreds of demonstrators attended the rally in Trafalgar Square, some of whom became involved in "outbreaks of violence towards officers", the Metropolitan Police said.

Dozens of officers – including some on horseback – attempted to break up the demonstration, but they were resisted by ranks of protesters who formed human blockades.

Live coverage of the latest coronavirus news and updates

There was loud cheering and chanting as some protesters pushed back the police, according to the Press Association news agency.

Advertisement

In a statement, Scotland Yard said that despite officers attempting to "explain, engage and encourage" the protesters to leave the rally, many remained "putting themselves and others at risk".

As a result, police said they would be taking "enforcement action to disperse those who remain in the area" – warning that those who remained were posing a risk to themselves and others and could be arrested.

The Met said a total of 32 arrests were made for offences including violent disorder, public order and assault on an emergency worker, as well under COVID-19 regulations.

Two police officers suffered minor injuries, the force added.

Image: Banners held by the demonstrators advocated conspiracy theories

The protest comes as a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic appears to be gaining pace, with the UK reporting more than 4,000 new daily cases on Friday – the highest figure since 8 May.

Local lockdown measures are being introduced in the North West, Midlands and West Yorkshire, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson has admitted that national guidance may have to go beyond the current "rule of six".

Saturday's demonstration meant traffic around Trafalgar Square was halted, and one protester was seen apparently spitting through the open window of a taxi, with the driver beeping their horn in frustration.

Those organising the rally, which was cleared shortly after 6pm, sold T-shirts featuring 5G conspiracy theories and advocating the legalisation of cannabis.

Protestors take part in an anti-vax rally in central London on September 19, 2020. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)
Image: Some of the protesters alleged that the pandemic was a hoax

Banners carried by others in attendance described the COVID-19 pandemic as a hoax, advocated against people wearing masks, and accused the government of concealing the truth.

One of the images creatRead More – Source