‘It’s not a time for political demos’: War heroes demand pro-Palestine protest on Armistice Day is cancelled – as Met chief Mark Rowley comes under pressure to ban marches amid fears they could spark clashes over Remembrance weekend
War heroes today joined calls for pro-Palestine supporters to ‘show some respect’ and call off a march coinciding with Armistice Day commemorations in London. – as Met chief Sir Mark Rowley came under pressure to request a ban.
The latest ‘Day of Action’ ended in ugly scenes as protesters surrounded British Legion poppy sellers during a sit-in protest at Charing Cross over the weekend.
Meanwhile, families leaving a McDonald’s in the capital were hounded amid a row over Israeli franchised restaurants giving free and discounted food to IDF soldiers.
There are now concerns remembrance events this Saturday could be disrupted by a major march in London calling for a ceasefire.
Sergeant Jay Baldwin, 38, who lost his legs in Afghanistan, was among those calling for the demonstration to be called off.
He told The Sun: ‘What is happening in the Middle East is terrible. But next weekend is when we remember those who have fallen whilst defending our freedom and our life as it is today — it’s not a time for political demos.’
Former Staff Sergeant Wayne Ingram, 54, said: ‘I feel disgusted that these protests are going ahead. Those who are taking part must show some respect for our veterans.’
Dismayed British Royal Legion poppy sellers could only look on after pro-Palestine protesters engaged in a sit-in protest at Charing Cross station on Saturday
Sergeant Jay Baldwin, 38, who lost his legs in Afghanistan , was among those calling for the demonstration to be called off
Former Staff Sergeant Wayne Ingram, 54, said of the Armistice Day march: ‘I feel disgusted that these protests are going ahead’
Mounted officers surround the Cenotaph war memorial on Whitehall on Saturday
Sir Mark has the option to write to Home Secretary Suella Braverman and ask her to approve a ban on a protest if there is a risk of serious disorder.
But the force has yet to commit to doing so and last night said: ‘We are keeping the possible use of this legislation under constant review.’
Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden has said he had ‘grave concerns’ about this Saturday’s march.
He said there had been ‘hateful conduct’ at previous marches in the capital and he was worried this weekend’s planned protests could become violent.
READ MORE – The authorities must find the courage to postpone the Armistice day march, writes former Colonel PHILIP INGRAM
His comments come after police were forced to close Charing Cross station in central London on Saturday when pro-Palestine protesters occupied the concourse.
Four officers were injured near Trafalgar Square by masked activists who shot fireworks at them.
And 29 people were arrested for offences including inciting racial hatred and assaulting a police officer.
Last night the Met said six people had been charged with public order offences.
Scotland Yard also said it had ‘received intelligence that a pamphlet purported to support Hamas was on sale’ at the protest.
It said a man was arrested yesterday after allegedly being heard making anti-Semitic comments in Parliament Square.
Mr Dowden said: ‘There is hateful conduct in those marches.
‘You have had those chants of things like jihad – they are an affront not just to the Jewish community, they should be an affront to all of British society.
‘And I think all of us should be calling out that kind of thing, and I think people who are on those marches need to ask themselves whether they are lending support to that kind of thing.’
Pro-Palestine protesters stage a sit-in protest at Charing Cross in London on Saturday
Thousands of activists holding ‘free Palestine’ banners in Trafalgar Square on Saturday
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley has the option to write to Home Secretary Suella Braverman and ask her to approve a ban on a protest if there is a risk of serious disorder (File Photo)
Labour defence spokesman John Healey said the rally should be allowed to go ahead if the protesters were respectful.
READ MORE: Dismayed poppy sellers surrounded by pro-Palestinian protesters, a crowd chanting ‘shame on you’ at child leaving McDonald’s and tube passengers shouting ‘smash the Zionist state’ – as Met makes 29 arrests
‘In a democracy like ours the right to free speech and protest is fundamental but there has to be a respect for the Remembrance service, for all cenotaphs and memorials, for the two minutes’ silence on Saturday, not just the Remembrance parade on Sunday,’ he added.
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign and others involved in the Armistice Day march due to be held on November 11 have pledged to keep the route away from Whitehall and the Cenotaph and will meet police chiefs again today for further talks.
The march is also not expected to start until 12.45pm, almost two hours after the two-minute silence to commemorate soldiers killed in the First World War and subsequent conflicts.
But there are fears groups could splinter from the main crowd and clash with Right-wing counter-protesters who plan to surround the Cenotaph. The following day – November 12, Remembrance Sunday – the King and other members of the Royal Family will lead the nation in a national service of remembrance at the Cenotaph.
The Met said thousands of officers would be deployed, insisting that anyone intent on causing disruption would not succeed.
Police push demonstrators back as they attempt to prevent police vans from leaving the scene of a protest in central London over the weekend
Another day of angry demonstrations on Saturday saw fireworks fired at police officers on Trafalgar Square
A spokesman said: ‘As in recent weeks, we have been speaking to the organisers of the pro-Palestine march… We will continue to speak to them. We fully appreciate the national significance of Armistice Day. Thousands of officers will be deployed in an extensive security operation and we will use all powers and tactics at our disposal to ensure that anyone intent on disrupting it will not succeed.’
Mrs Braverman had described Saturday’s upcoming rally as a ‘hate march’. In response to a tweet from the Prime Minister in which Rishi Sunak referred to the plans as ‘provocative and disrespectful,’ Mrs Braverman wrote: ‘It is entirely unacceptable to desecrate Armistice Day with a hate march through London.’
READ MORE – Boris Johnson visits kibbutz where Hamas massacred Israeli civilians
Mr Dowden said he continued to be surprised the same abhorrence shown toward most forms of racism did not seem to have been applied to anti-Semitism.
He added: ‘I am a bit disappointed that if you look at the moral indignation and the clarity that we saw after the murder of George Floyd in the United States with the Black Lives Matter movement, we haven’t seen, across civic society, the same kind of moral clarity showing Jewish lives matter.’
Demonstrators have threatened to occupy more rail stations in the capital this weekend after more than 30,000 people descended on Trafalgar Square on Saturday, some chanting anti- Israeli songs and held anti- Semitic placards.
Some shouted the slogan ‘from the river to the sea’ and one held a banner with the message ‘If I don’t steal it somebody else is going to steal it – Israeli proverb’.
A woman was also seen holding a placard bearing an image of the Star of David being thrown in a dustbin.
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