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Pro-Gaza mob sparks chaos on London’s Tower Bridge with road blocked and activists setting off red and green flares as police battle to contain Palestine demo

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Pro-Gaza activists sparked chaos on Tower Bridge after blocking traffic and setting of red and green flares in a demonstration over the conflict in Palestine.

Members of campaign group Youth Demand moved onto the road as police tried to contain the protest at the iconic landmark on Saturday afternoon.

Video shows demonstrators carrying Palestine flags and wearing keffiyehs – a headdress which has become associated with support for the territory – while chanting and dancing in the middle of the road as cars sound their horns at them.

The protesters could be heard shouting ‘we are the people, we will not be silenced, stop the bombing now’, as well as ‘the people united, will never be defeated’.

It was one of a number of demonstrations by the Just Stop Oil-affiliated activist group in the capital yesterday, with several arrested by police as they staged a sit-in protest close to Waterloo Station.

Protesters waving the Palestine flag and wearing keffiyehs blocked traffic on Tower Bridge on Saturday afternoon

Protesters waving the Palestine flag and wearing keffiyehs blocked traffic on Tower Bridge on Saturday afternoon

Demonstrators also let off red and green flares as they protested against the war in Gaza

Demonstrators also let off red and green flares as they protested against the war in Gaza

The activists formed a line in the road as they chanted songs and blocked traffic on the London landmark

The activists formed a line in the road as they chanted songs and blocked traffic on the London landmark

They flocked into London to counter a thousand-strong march through the capital by people protesting against ‘tow-tier’ policing. That rally, led by Tommy Robinson, also saw people handcuffed.

Pro-Gaza activists had descended on Jubilee Gardens next to the London Eye, before some blocked traffic on York Road, leading to a series of chaotic arrests.

On X, formerly Twitter, London’s Metropolitan Police said the protesters ‘were already subject to conditions not to leave the pavement and a number of them have been arrested for breaching those conditions.’

Youth Demand said in an earlier statement that they would both hold a march and sit-in, and vowed when police asked them to move they ‘will not going anywhere.’

‘We must have the courage to say ‘NOT IN OUR NAMES’ and mean it,’ the statement read.

Images from the scene showed demonstrators being dragged and shoved off the streets by officers donning hi-vis jackets as the activists screamed and cried.

In one shot, a woman can be seen holding an orange Youth Demand banner while an officer grabs her shoulders and pushed her out of the way.

In another, two officers are seen pinning a man down to the ground while handcuffing him.

The chaotic demonstration came after thousands of Tommy Robinson supporters descended on central London yesterday as balaclava-clad demonstrators flew the flag of St George and let off smoke cannisters.

London police intervene and arrest pro-Palestinian demonstrators during a demonstration held by the Youth Demand group, that gather at the Jubilee Gardens to protest against the Israeli attacks on Gaza on June 1, 2024

London police intervene and arrest pro-Palestinian demonstrators during a demonstration held by the Youth Demand group, that gather at the Jubilee Gardens to protest against the Israeli attacks on Gaza on June 1, 2024

Police officers push protesters off the road near Waterloo Station during a demonstration yesterday

Police officers push protesters off the road near Waterloo Station during a demonstration yesterday

Protesters were seen being dragged off the streets as they attempted a sit-in demonstration in central London

Protesters were seen being dragged off the streets as they attempted a sit-in demonstration in central London 

Police officers arrest a protester blocking York Road near Waterloo Station

Police officers arrest a protester blocking York Road near Waterloo Station

Youth Demand said in an earlier statement that they would both hold a march and sit-in, and vowed when police asked them to move they 'will not going anywhere.'

Youth Demand said in an earlier statement that they would both hold a march and sit-in, and vowed when police asked them to move they ‘will not going anywhere.’

When the swathe of activists arrived on York Road, some began a sit-in protest, blocking traffic, which led to a series of arrests

When the swathe of activists arrived on York Road, some began a sit-in protest, blocking traffic, which led to a series of arrests

Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, organised the protest under the auspices of calling for the resignation of Met Police chief Sir Mark Rowley for presiding over what he called London’s ‘two-tier policing’ system.

The Met Police said they had identified people in the crowd who had been linked to ‘football violence’ and anti-lockdown protests.

Some demonstrators set off smoke flares and air horns as they marched down Millbank and a video appears to show a Tommy Robinson supporter being arrested by police.

The man who was wearing a grey Nike hoodie was led away from the crowd flanked by three police officers.

The Met Police said that two arrests had been made in the vicinity of Parliament Square – one for ‘drunk and disorderly behaviour and assaulting an emergency worker’ and the second relating to an ‘incident where a woman was subjected to racial abuse’.

Several hundred metres away in Whitehall, a static counter-demonstration had been set up by Stand Up To Racism.

Speaker Zak Cochrane led chants of ‘Nazi scum off our streets’ and ‘say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here’.

Others held placards reading ‘oppose Tommy Robinson’ and ‘stop fascists and the far-right’.

Stand Up To Racism said in a statement its members would ‘stand together against attempts to divide us’.

Barricades were set up to separate the square from Whitehall in order to prevent the opposing groups from coming together.

The protest led by 'Tommy Robinson' appeared to be calling for Sir Mark Rowley's resignation

The protest led by ‘Tommy Robinson’ appeared to be calling for Sir Mark Rowley’s resignation

Thousands of people packed into Parliament Square to watch Tommy Robinson's documentary, Lawfare, in which he aired his personal grievances with the police

Thousands of people packed into Parliament Square to watch Tommy Robinson’s documentary, Lawfare, in which he aired his personal grievances with the police

Tommy Robinson (centre), whose real name is Stephen Yaxley Lennon, leads the protest march through London to Parliament Square

Tommy Robinson (centre), whose real name is Stephen Yaxley Lennon, leads the protest march through London to Parliament Square

Several thousand people turned out to see Robinson’s documentary airing his grievances against the police yesterday.

The far-right activist said the event was about ‘celebrating…our culture and values’ while his Urban Scoop ‘independent journalism’ website said it would be a ‘brilliant and peaceful pro British event’.

But a grinning Robinson led the procession carrying a banner bearing the face of Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and the slogan: ‘This is London, not Londonistan’.

After the presentation, he aired video messages from conspiracy theorists, anti-vaccine campaigners and far-right activists, some of whom who spouted Islamophobic conspiracy theories.

Scotland Yard says some of the protesters have a history of being involved in violent disorder, while others are associated with what it called ‘hooligan groups’. A ‘number of people’, the Met said, were drunk, with hours of the event left to go.

Some members of the crowd set off smoke flares and air horns as they marched down Millbank.

At Parliament Square, Robinson took to the stage where he was applauded and cheered by supporters.

Decked out in Stone Island, the 41-year-old was joined by actor Laurence Fox who told the crowd: ‘I am proud to be British. The most important freedom of all is the freedom to speak our minds. We must protect our right to speak above all other rights.’

‘British lives with British values matter too’, he said. To huge cheers, he said: ‘This is our country.’

A woman then sang a version of Emeli Sande’s Read All About It – to which Robinson said: ‘That’s beautiful, mate.’

British right-wing YouTuber and former UKIP member Carl Benjamin called for the crowd to take a ‘wholesome message to the British people’.

People take part in a protest march through London, organised by Tommy Robinson, real name is Stephen Yaxley Lennon

People take part in a protest march through London, organised by Tommy Robinson, real name is Stephen Yaxley Lennon

Groups from across the UK linked to football disorder are expected to attend the event the Metropolitan Police said

Groups from across the UK linked to football disorder are expected to attend the event the Metropolitan Police said

Protester with a small England flag sticker on his forehead joins the crowd as it marches through the capital

Protester with a small England flag sticker on his forehead joins the crowd as it marches through the capital

Protesters arrive in London for a protest march, expected to be heavily policed by the Met

Protesters arrive in London for a protest march, expected to be heavily policed by the Met

Members of the public gather in Whitehall to protest against Tommy Robinson and The English Defence League

Members of the public gather in Whitehall to protest against Tommy Robinson and The English Defence League

Benjamin is a one-time European election candidate who once told Labour MP Jess Phillips: ‘I wouldn’t even rape you’.

He said: ‘We have real problems, none of the mainstream parties are going to solve these problems we are going to have to do it ourselves.

‘But we have to remember the conduct of one depends the fate of all. You have to remember your dignity as an English man and woman is on the line and worthy of the respect of your ancestors.

‘Those glorious ancestors of ours are watching and they want us to win and we have to win for our children.

‘We need to take a wholesome message to the British people – we are going to do this.’

Enthusiasm for Robinson’s film appeared to wane as it ran on. At 3.13pm, the Met issued a message to those leaving the protest, advising them to head back towards Victoria Station as other avenues were blocked off.

Nick Lowles, managing director of Hope Not Hate, said in a tweet: ‘Tommy Robinson’s film is being screened but the crowd is thinning fast. Many of those who remain and talking amongst themselves… And there is still a lot of the film to go.’

Undeterred, Robinson said over 360,000 people were watching a live stream of the rally on X, formerly Twitter, adding: ‘And the mainstream media thought we were finished.’

The Metropolitan Police said it had identified individuals in Parliament Square who have ‘a history of… violent disorder’, ‘football banning orders’ and ‘involvement in anti-lockdown protests during the pandemic and associated disorder’.

It said in a tweet shared at 2.14pm: ‘While there have not been any offences so far, a number of people in the crowd are intoxicated. The event still has a number of hours left to go.’

Robinson carried a banner bearing the slogan 'This is London, not Londonistan' - featuring an image of London's Muslim mayor, Sadiq Khan

Robinson carried a banner bearing the slogan ‘This is London, not Londonistan’ – featuring an image of London’s Muslim mayor, Sadiq Khan

Counter-protesters from Stand Up To Racism gathered on Whitehall. Police set up barricades between the two groups to prevent them coming together

Counter-protesters from Stand Up To Racism gathered on Whitehall. Police set up barricades between the two groups to prevent them coming together

Police set up barriers on Whitehall to prevent protesters from each side from coming together

Police set up barriers on Whitehall to prevent protesters from each side from coming together

Police form a guard behind the barricades on Whitehall ahead of Tommy Robinson's rally

Police form a guard behind the barricades on Whitehall ahead of Tommy Robinson’s rally 

A man sells Union and England flags outside the Houses of Parliament as supporters of Tommy Robinson filtered into Parliament Square

A man sells Union and England flags outside the Houses of Parliament as supporters of Tommy Robinson filtered into Parliament Square 

Several thousand people are believed to have attended the rally - but the numbers are thought to have fallen away as the film screening continued

Several thousand people are believed to have attended the rally – but the numbers are thought to have fallen away as the film screening continued

A man cosplays as an English crusader on Parliament Square after marching from Victoria Station for Tommy Robinson's rally

A man cosplays as an English crusader on Parliament Square after marching from Victoria Station for Tommy Robinson’s rally

Observers say around 3,000 people are in attendance at the far-right event - at which the Met says it has recognised people with a history of being involved in violent disorder

Observers say around 3,000 people are in attendance at the far-right event – at which the Met says it has recognised people with a history of being involved in violent disorder

Robinson set off from Victoria around 1pm with a large group toting Union and England.

Scotland Yard said thousands of police officers had been drawn in to police the protests through the capital, with as many as 400 from forces outside London.

But their work has been complicated by pro-Palestine activists from Youth Demand, who vowed to block roads on Saturday. The group refused to tell the police where they intended to protest.

‘Nine Youth Demand protesters were arrested for breaching Public Order Act conditions not to leave the pavement,’ the Met said.

‘The remainder of the group has largely dispersed but officers continue to monitor those still in the area.’

The force accused them of attempting to ’cause serious disruption by blocking traffic’ on York Road, close to London Waterloo station. 

Speaking before the protests on Saturday, T/Commander Louise Puddefoot, leading the operation this weekend, said: ‘Officers have been in discussion with the organisers of both protests in recent weeks.

‘Our priority is to ensure those exercising their right to lawful protest, both in the main march and as part of the counter protest, can do so safely.

‘Officers will police these demonstrations, as they always do, without fear or favour – keeping participants and the wider public safe, and responding decisively to criminal offences and any attempt to cause serious disruption.

‘While we are grateful to the main organiser of the protest for comments he has made publicly discouraging violence on Saturday, we do have concerns about the number of those believed to be attending who have links to football disorder.

‘When these groups have come together at previous protests we have regrettably seen violence directed at officers.

‘This precedent unavoidably plays a part in shaping the policing approach, including the number and nature of resources allocated to police this particular protest.’





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