Police clashed with anti-lockdown protesters at a demonstration in central London as officials tried to end the event.
Thousands of people gathered in Trafalgar Square on Saturday with various signs, flags and placards to attend a rally that we disagree with. Very few appear to be wearing face covering or social distancing. But the Metropolitan Police said on Twitter that they are telling the crowd to disperse for failing to comply with social distancing rules.
Officers registered the crowd in Trafalgar Square and water was thrown at them by protesters while the crowd also sang “Pick your Side” to the officers. Bottles were thrown and police used batons against protesters, some leaving visible injuries.
At least three protesters and one officer were treated by medical staff. Police removed audio equipment from Trafalgar Square and several demonstrators were handcuffed away. Another protester was physically carried away from the scene by officials.
The troop said: “Crowds in Trafalgar Square have failed to meet the terms of their risk assessment and are putting the virus at risk. This has invalidated their risk assessment and we have informed the organizers that they are no longer complying with the regulations.
“We are now asking those in Trafalgar Square to leave. The officials will be dealing with crowds and informing them of this development. If you leave now you can protect yourself and prevent officials from taking enforcement action.”
The police had previously searched a man and confiscated a makeshift shield that he was wearing. The protest comes a week after a separate incident in which more than a dozen officers were injured when a “small minority” targeted the police and more than 32 people were arrested.
The Met said it worked with organizers throughout the week to remind them of their legal obligations and to explain that the events may violate coronavirus regulations.
While protests in England are exempt from the “rule of six”, organizers must submit a risk assessment and adhere to social distancing. Police said some organizers did, but where they did not, the Met would “increase engagement and encourage participants to disperse”. They added that enforcement “remains a last resort but will be carried out when necessary”.