Scotland Yard said 11 people were arrested during an anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine protest in Westminster, which saw protesters block a road and force traffic to stop on so-called ‘Freedom Day “.
Protesters held up placards and chanted ‘freedom’ as they gathered in Parliament Square on Monday after nearly all remaining restrictions on coronaviruses were lifted in England.
Metropolitan Police said shortly after 3 p.m. officers continued to respond to the protest in central London and 11 people had been arrested for various offenses.
In a Twitter post, the force added: “Our police operation continues, unfortunately the officers were greeted with hostility as they engaged with the crowd.”
Images posted on social media show protesters clashing with officers in the middle of the road on Parliament Street near Westminster tube station, where hundreds of protesters had gathered.
Bottles were thrown at officers, many of whom were wearing helmets, as scuffles erupted and protesters shouted curses at police amid sweltering temperatures in the capital.
Dan Andersson, a 61-year-old Oxford entrepreneur, joined the protest which he said was “a petition to file a complaint against the erosion of our civil liberties.”
“I have two teenagers – I see it as a struggle for them and their future,” he told the PA News Agency.
Mr Andersson said the crowd “was not violent”, but added: “The crowd was angrier, more lively than in previous protests in London.
“Near Parliament Square there was a dead end against an impromptu line of petitioners – some pushing and shoving, a few arrests.
“Someone fell on the front line – the police and protesters helped him up, which was nice.”
Another participant, who declined to be named, told the AP that there had been “a lot of abuse directed at the police” by those demonstrating.
The anti-lockdown protest comes on the day most lockdown restrictions have been relaxed in England, including the end of social distancing rules and face masks are no longer mandatory in shops and on public transport.
Earlier Monday, protesters spilled out of the square and into the road outside Parliament, stopping traffic and directing officers to urge those involved to get off the road.
An officer was seen locking a door at the entrance to Parliament as those outside held signs with anti-vaccination and anti-police messages, some chanting “shame on the police” and “Boris arrest Johnson “.
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