The Metropolitan Police made 25 arrests last night as protesters wearing Guy Fawkes masks marched through central London in an anti-capitalist demonstration, organised by activist group Anonymous.
Masked activists chanted “who’s streets? Our streets” along with setting off fireworks, flares and smoke grenades in Trafalgar Square and Downing Street.
In previous years, the police had been met with violent resistance, resulting in 53 arrests at the 2016 event for public order offences such as improper use of fireworks, offensive weapons and possession of drugs, according to Met figures.
In a statement on the Met’s website, Chief Superintendent Elaine Van-Orden said: “We police hundreds of public events and demonstrations in Central London every year and we always facilitate peaceful protest. However, due to the previous history of this event, we have strong reasons to believe that peaceful protest is the last thing on the minds of some of those who will attend.”
It is estimated around a thousand people attended the march – numbers much lower than previous years. Riot police held a heavy presence at key locations around Westminster, in particular, Parliament Square.
Scotland Yard imposed strict conditions on the march, giving demonstrators a three-hour time slot between 6 pm and 9 pm and a preplanned route stretching from Trafalgar Square to Whitehall.
Some activists decided to take their own route causing mass disruption in Covent Garden, Leicester Square and surrounding areas.
A post on their Facebook page ahead of the march warned those involved that “the police are not your friends” adding: “we have seen the abuses and malpractice of this government, and governments before it, we have seen the encroaching destruction of many civil liberties we hold dear.
We have seen the capital, profit and greed of the few put before the well-being of the many and we say enough is enough.
We invite all activists, workers, students, doctors, nurses and all those that want to see a positive change in the world, to join us, in Trafalgar Square from 6pm, November 5th. The government and the 1% have played their hand, now it is time to play ours. Expect us.”
Words: Joshua Hornsey | Subbed: Bishakha Dutta