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Met Police to use all its powers to stop Remembrance weekend protest disruption

The Metropolitan Police has vowed to use all its powers to stop disruption of Remembrance weekend commemorations amid ongoing pro-Palestinian protests.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators calling for an immediate ceasefire in Israel’s attacks on Gaza are planning to take to the streets of London on Armistice Day on Saturday November 11.

There are fears the march could disrupt the two-minute silence commemorating the war dead, and the daytime and evening Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall, with the latter performance usually attended by members of the royal family.

The Met Police said officers will be deployed across the capital that weekend as part of a “significant policing and security operation”.

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It said protest groups have not indicated plans to march on Remembrance Sunday on November 12, but a significant demonstration is expected on the Saturday.

Organisers of the demo have pledged to avoid the Whitehall area where the Cenotaph war memorial – the focus of national remembrance events – is located.

Israel-Hamas conflict
Protesters during a pro-Palestine march organised by Palestine Solidarity Campaign in central London last month (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

The Met said: “This is a weekend with huge national significance.

“We will use all the powers available to us to ensure anyone intent on disrupting it will not succeed.”

It added: “We’re absolutely committed to ensuring the safety and security of anyone attending commemorative events.”

The high-profile Remembrance Sunday outdoor service at the Cenotaph is attended by royals, senior politicians and veterans each year, and is a poignant tribute to those who lost their lives in conflict.

Remembrance Sunday
The scene at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London following the national Remembrance Sunday service in 2022 (Yui Mok/PA)

Armistice Day on November 11 is the anniversary of the end of the First World War, and is also known as Remembrance Day.

Friends of Al-Aqsa (FOA) is preparing to bus protesters from Leicester to London on the Saturday and said it expected hundreds of thousands of people to take part in the demonstration organised by a coalition of groups.

Ismail Patel, FOA spokesman, said: “We definitely will not be at the Cenotaph. We understand the sensitivity of the date.”

Met Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said he is “deeply concerned” about the effects of protests on day-to-day local policing and admitted he may have to look to other forces to help deal with the ongoing action.

Sir Mark Rowley in conversation with Sir Trevor Phillips
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said he is ‘deeply concerned’ about the effects of protests on local policing (James Manning/PA)

“We are starting to look at what point we need to look for mutual aid from other forces and change our approach to resourcing this to make it sustainable,” he told the London Assembly.

He said that since Hamas attacked Jews in Israel on October 7 successive weekend protests in central London have been policed by 1,000 officers, then 1,500 and then by 2,000.

Police made around 70 arrests at the protests and almost 100 more for hate crimes, with anti-Jewish hate crime up 14-fold and anti-Muslim hate crime up threefold on last year, he said.

On November 4, the Stop the War coalition is calling for a nationwide “Day of Action for Palestine” around the country, with a rally in London’s Trafalgar Square.

Meanwhile, Stand Up to Racism and Extinction Rebellion London are organising a “Stop Braverman, Stop the Hate” march outside the Home Office.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman drew criticism when she warned that a “hurricane” of mass migration is coming, in her speech to the Conservative party conference last month.