Covid: 13 arrested as thousands of anti-coronavirus protesters march through London

Covid: 13 arrested as thousands of anti-coronavirus protesters march through London

Thirteen arrests were made after thousands ofcoronavirus Lockout protesters marched through London.

Protesters carried placards with slogans such as ‘Fear Westmonster Not The Virus’ and ‘Stop Destroying Our Children’s Lives’, while others argued that restrictions to reduce transmission of the deadly disease are anti -freedom of expression.

The march comes despite police warnings to avoid protests due to Covid-19 restrictions and the ban on being outside with more than one other person in England.

The majority of protesters did not appear to be following social distancing measures or wearing masks as they made their way through the streets of the capital from Hyde Park to Westminster.

Metropolitan Police said 13 people had been arrested, mainly for violating Covid regulations.

The force tweeted: “Our officers continue to engage with those attending the ongoing protests in central London.

“Those who gather in crowds are encouraged to disperse and return home.

“Officers will take enforcement action if necessary. It can be a fixed penalty notice or an arrest. “

The march was organized to mark a year since the first Covid restrictions were put in place.

It comes as the government faces renewed pressure to ease Covid lockdown restrictions to allow protests to continue.

Over 60 MPs and peers have signed a warning letter that allowing police to criminalize protesters is “unacceptable and arguably illegal”.

The letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel and Health Secretary Matt Hancock was coordinated by Liberty and Big Brother Watch.

The signatories include Conservative MPs Sir Charles Walker, Steve Baker, Sir Christopher Chope and Sir Desmond Swayne and Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey.

It follows the outcry over how the Metropolitan Police have moved in to interrupt a vigil last week on Clapham Common in memory of Sarah Everard.

The letter said such “shocking scenes” were “entirely preventable” if the government had provided advice to police and ensured that the protests were clearly exempted from the ban on locked out gatherings.

Sam Grant, Liberty’s policy and campaign manager, said: “In a healthy democracy, protest is an essential way to fight for what we believe in.

“The current virtual ban on protests by the government is totally unacceptable.

“Police last week admitted the protests weren’t banned under lockdown regulations, but used them to threaten and then arrest protesters anyway.

“The Home Secretary must immediately issue direction to all police forces to ensure that socially distant protests can continue and create an explicit exemption for protests in current regulations. “

Meanwhile in Brixton, protesters gathered in a more socially distant way to take part in an anti-racism rally – part of a global protest that saw more than 20 countries go online – by broadcasting live events in their cities.

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