Police to leaflet pro-Palestinian marchers in London

UK

Pro-Palestinian protesters will be handed leaflets by police telling them what will land them in a cell, with more than 100,000 people expected to march in London on Saturday.

Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Ade Adelekan assured Jewish people they will be “absolutely” safe with around 1,500 officers on duty on both days over the weekend.

Sunday will also see the first national march against antisemitism since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war on 7 October, with organisers expecting between 40,000 to 50,000 people to attend.

Follow live: Latest updates from Israel-Hamas war

Last weekend saw smaller pro-Palestinian demonstrations take place around the country. These included protests at railway stations in London, Manchester and Leeds, following a huge march on Armistice Day.

Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of the capital, with some spotted carrying allegedly antisemitic placards, while dozens of far-right counter-protesters were arrested after ugly scenes near the Cenotaph.

Image:
Police tell protesters how to avoid ending up in a cell

The Met leaflets will be handed out this Saturday along the route of the march organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign from Park Lane to Whitehall to provide “absolute clarity” on what will be deemed a criminal offence.

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There will be trained spotters on the lookout for criminal activity, including “hate placards”. Officers will also be briefed on chants which may cross the line into criminality, with lawyers and Arabic speakers on hand.

The leaflet warns against using “words or images that are racist or incite hatred against any faith”, that “support Hamas or any other banned organisation” or “that celebrate or promote acts of terrorism – such as the killing or kidnap of innocent people”.

“If in any doubt bin any placard or sign that might break these rules,” it says.

The leaflet also tells those attending to check if any restrictions are in place and warns: “Don’t cause fear or be violent, including using flares or fireworks, or using threatening words or aggressive behaviours that could be considered intimidating.

“Don’t deface or damage statues, monuments or other property.”

There will be an exclusion zone around the Israeli embassy and a physical barrier around the Cenotaph, while Mr Adelekan said officers are alert to criminal behaviour relating to “the sanctity” of war memorials.

The Met faced criticism for not arresting protesters with Palestinian flags who scaled the Royal Artillery Memorial, which commemorates the nearly 50,000 soldiers from the Royal Artillery killed in the First World War, at Hyde Park corner last week.

Image:
Saturday’s pro-Palestinian protest route

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Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said while officers recognised climbing on a war memorial was not illegal, it was “unfortunate” and “inflammatory in certain ways”.

Mr Adelekan said the power of arrest lies with the officer and that anyone targeting a monument could be arrested for offences including criminal damage depending on the circumstances.

Hizb ut-Tahrir is holding a separate protest outside the Egyptian embassy on Saturday – the first demonstration by the Islamist group since the chanting of the word “jihad” at a rally last month – with between 300 and 400 people expected to attend.

Mr Adelekan said “it is a word that clearly causes upset and concern but it is always contextual”, adding: “If we think people are chanting this to incite violence, terrorism or antisemitism, we will act decisively and quickly.”

He said there is a comprehensive plan in place to protect MPs after cabinet minister Michael Gove was surrounded by pro-Palestinian protesters at Victoria station, while some Labour MPs’ offices have been targeted over their position not to support a ceasefire.

Mr Adelekan said the Campaign Against Antisemitism, which is organising Sunday’s march starting outside the Royal Courts of Justice, have said Tommy Robinson, the former leader of the English Defence League seen among crowds of counter-protesters on Armistice Day, is “not welcome”.

Police understand he plans to attend as a “reporter” but the senior officer said there is no intelligence that any other far-right protesters plan to attend.

“What we cannot see and what we will not let happen is the kind of violence that happened on 11 November,” he added.

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