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Police haul away anti-lockdown activists after hundreds descend on Parliament Square protest

Anti-lockdown activists were hauled away by police today as hundreds turned out for a protest in Parliament Square amid fears the country faces tighter restrictions as Covid cases continue to rise.

Scotland Yard issued an open letter ahead of the event, urging people not to attend large gatherings over the last weekend before Christmas. 

Extra officers have been placed on London’s streets to  encourage compliance with strict Tier 3 Covid-19 regulations and to ‘swiftly clamp down on those wilfully and dangerously ignoring them’.

However, the demonstration went ahead as planned in Parliament Square, along with others around the country, including in Newcastle.

Violence once again erupted, with some activists being tackled to the floor by officers.

One of those who was arrested was Andreas Michli, the owner of a gym in Wood Green that refused to shut its door during the second national lockdown.

‘I’m going to keep doing this until we’re free,’ he said as he was led to a police van.

Anti-lockdown activists were hauled away by police today as hundreds turned out for a protest in Parliament Square amid fears the country faces tighter restrictions as Covid cases continue to rise 

Several police officers surround a protester on the floor during the demonstration in Parliament Square this afternoon

Several police officers surround a protester on the floor during the demonstration in Parliament Square this afternoon

Scotland Yard issued an open letter ahead of the event, urging people not to attend large gatherings over the last weekend before Christmas

Scotland Yard issued an open letter ahead of the event, urging people not to attend large gatherings over the last weekend before Christmas

One of those who was arrested was Andreas Michli, the owner of a gym in Wood Green that refused to shut its door during the second national lockdown

One of those who was arrested was Andreas Michli, the owner of a gym in Wood Green that refused to shut its door during the second national lockdown

Extra officers have been placed on London's streets to encourage compliance with strict Tier 3 Covid-19 regulations and to 'swiftly clamp down on those wilfully and dangerously ignoring them'

Extra officers have been placed on London’s streets to encourage compliance with strict Tier 3 Covid-19 regulations and to ‘swiftly clamp down on those wilfully and dangerously ignoring them’

A demonstrator holds up a placard during this afternoon's protest which read: '99/7% recovery from Covid - why do we need a vaccine?'

A demonstrator holds up a placard during this afternoon’s protest which read: ’99/7% recovery from Covid – why do we need a vaccine?’

Coronavirus laws outlaw gatherings of more than six outdoors, although there is a list of exemptions which includes protests where all relevant safety precautions are in place

Coronavirus laws outlaw gatherings of more than six outdoors, although there is a list of exemptions which includes protests where all relevant safety precautions are in place

The Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers in England and Wales, earlier this week wrote to Home Secretary Priti Patel highlighting the health risks to those policing protests

The Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers in England and Wales, earlier this week wrote to Home Secretary Priti Patel highlighting the health risks to those policing protests

The Met said the force will focus on disrupting large gatherings adding that protest organisers must stick to Government regulations as well as their submitted risk assessment

The Met said the force will focus on disrupting large gatherings adding that protest organisers must stick to Government regulations as well as their submitted risk assessment

A protest organiser speaks with police officers as people gather in Parliament Square for an anti-lockdown demonstration, "Unite in the Fight"

A protest organiser speaks with police officers as people gather in Parliament Square for an anti-lockdown demonstration, ‘Unite in the Fight’

A demonstrator holds up a sign reading: 'Why vaccinate for something 99% of people beat and flawed PCR tests find in a glass of Coke?'

A demonstrator holds up a sign reading: ‘Why vaccinate for something 99% of people beat and flawed PCR tests find in a glass of Coke?’

 

Police talk with demonstrators during an anti-lockdown protest in Parliament Square central London this afternoon

Police talk with demonstrators during an anti-lockdown protest in Parliament Square central London this afternoon

Police officers attempt to discourage protesters from mixing as they gather in Parliament Square at an anti-lockdown demonstration

Police officers attempt to discourage protesters from mixing as they gather in Parliament Square at an anti-lockdown demonstration

A demonstrator holds up a placard reading 'we do not consent' during the demonstration in the capital this afternoon

A demonstrator holds up a placard reading ‘we do not consent’ during the demonstration in the capital this afternoon

Protesters march up Whitehall after gathering in Parliament Square at an anti-lockdown demonstration, "Unite in the Fight"

Protesters march up Whitehall after gathering in Parliament Square at an anti-lockdown demonstration, ‘Unite in the Fight’ 

Despite warnings from Scotland Yard, protests went on around the country today, including in Newcastle city centre

Despite warnings from Scotland Yard, protests went on around the country today, including in Newcastle city centre

A demonstrator holds up a placard reading 'I do not consent' during a protest against lockdown in Newcastle city centre

A demonstrator holds up a placard reading ‘I do not consent’ during a protest against lockdown in Newcastle city centre

A protester holds up a placard as they gather at a "Memorial March" in central Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in north-east England

A protester holds up a placard as they gather at a ‘Memorial March’ in central Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in north-east England

Placards reading 'power of love' and 'knowledge is power' were held up during demonstrations in Newcastle this afternoon

Placards reading ‘power of love’ and ‘knowledge is power’ were held up during demonstrations in Newcastle this afternoon

An activist at a demonstration in Newcastle city centre this afternoon holds up a placard reading 'I'm tier free'

An activist at a demonstration in Newcastle city centre this afternoon holds up a placard reading ‘I’m tier free’

Coronavirus laws outlaw gatherings of more than six outdoors, although there is a list of exemptions which includes protests where all relevant safety precautions are in place.

The Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers in England and Wales, earlier this week wrote to Home Secretary Priti Patel highlighting the health risks to those policing protests.

National chairman John Apter and Met Police Federation chairman Ken Marsh described the Christmas footfall coupled with a mass demonstration as a potentially ‘deadly and unmanageable mix’.

The Met said the force will focus on disrupting large gatherings adding that protest organisers must stick to Government regulations as well as their submitted risk assessment.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor said: ‘Where we become aware of planned events that will breach regulations, we will try to engage with organisers or venues to make them fully aware of the restrictions that are in place to keep people safe.

‘However, if people do not listen to our advice and fail to comply with the rules, we will be forced to take enforcement action.

‘With infection rates rising rapidly across the capital, we all need to play our part in preventing the spread of the virus.

‘This is the final weekend before Christmas, so now is not the time for complacency. I know Londoners know what they should and should not be doing and I would urge everyone to act sensibly and do their part to keep our city safe.

‘Sticking to the guidelines put in place to keep us all safe and well is now more important than ever.

‘This weekend we will ensure we deal with the activity of a few so as not to expose our communities at even greater risk during this pandemic.’

Some 11 people were arrested after a demonstration by about 200 protesters in London’s Parliament Square on Monday for alleged offences including breach of Covid-19 regulations, Public Order Act offences and assaulting an emergency worker.

During the second national lockdown at the end of November more than 150 people were arrested as activists marched from Hyde Park to Oxford Circus and Regent Street, clashing with police.

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