11 arrested as anti-lockdown protesters clash with police in Westminster
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Scotland Yard said 11 people have been arrested amid an anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine protest in Westminster, which saw demonstrators block a road and force traffic to a standstill on so-called “freedom day”.
Protesters held signs and chanted “freedom” as they gathered in Parliament Square on Monday after almost all remaining coronavirus restrictions were lifted in England.
The Metropolitan Police said, shortly after 3pm, that officers continued to respond to the demonstration in central London and that 11 people had been arrested for a variety of offences.
In a post on Twitter, the force added: “Our policing operation continues, sadly officers have been met with hostility while engaging with crowds.”
Footage posted on social media shows some protestors clashing with officers in the middle of the road on Parliament Street near Westminster Underground station, where hundreds of demonstrators had gathered.
Bottles were thrown in the direction of officers, many of whom were wearing helmets, as scuffles broke out and demonstrators shouted abuse at police in sweltering temperatures in the capital.
Dan Andersson, a 61-year-old entrepeneur from Oxford, joined the protest which he said was “a petition to lodge a complaint against the erosion of our civil liberties”.
“I have two teenage boys – I see this as me fighting for them and their futures,” he told the PA news agency.
Mr Andersson claimed the crowd “wasn’t violent”, but added: “The crowd was more angry, more spirited than at previous London demonstrations.
“Close to Parliament Square there was a stand-off against an impromptu line of petitioners – some pushing and shoving, a couple of arrests.
“Someone fell over on the front line – both police and demonstrators helped him to his feet which was nice.”
Another attendee, who did not wish to be named, told PA there had been “lots of abuse directed against police” by those demonstrating.
The anti-lockdown protest comes on the day that most lockdown restrictions were eased in England, including an end to social distancing rules and face masks no longer mandatory in shops and on public transport.
Earlier on Monday, protesters spilled out of the square and into the road in front of the Houses of Parliament, bringing traffic to a standstill and leading officers to urge those involved to move out of the road.
An officer was seen to put a lock on a gate at the entrance to Parliament while those outside held signs with anti-vaccination and anti-police messages, with some chanting “shame on police” and “arrest Boris Johnson”.