Anarchists and anti-vaxxers have set an effigy of Prime Minister Boris Johnson ablaze in Trafalgar Square as hundreds of protestors clash with police on the streets of London amid the annual Million Mask March.
Twelve anarchists were arrested and eight police officers were injured in the frenzy which saw hordes of rioters sporting Guy Fawkes masks, flares and weapons hurl fireworks at officers, forcing riot police to pile into the crowd to confiscate the missiles.
Other groups of anarchists joined arms and rushed the police, leading to violent clashes and fights between the protestors and officers in Parliament Square, Trafalgar Square and Oxford Circus.
The Met has issued a dispersal order for Westminster, urging protestors to disband, but footage has emerged of riot police locked in a battle with rioters just metres from the Houses of Parliament.
It comes as families and children are out in droves to celebrate bonfire night as they attend fireworks displays all over the city.
The Met refused to disclose the number of protestors that have been arrested to the MailOnline, but footage from the protest has shown several rioters being hauled away by riot police after intense scraps with officers.
Police officers have also set up a cordon and reinforced security outside the BBC headquarters at Portland Place to protect the building from surging protestors at Oxford Circus.
One, who gave his name only as Richard, from London, said the protest was a ‘continuation of the anti-Covid marches’.
‘It’s a couple of fingers in the direction of the establishment,’ he said.
The march, which has been held each year since 2012, sees anarchists and anti-establishment protestors rally against government corruption, wealth inequality and, as of last year, coronavirus restrictions.
Almost 200 people, including businessman and prominent anti-vaxxer Piers Corbyn, were arrested in last year’s march for breaching Covid restrictions.
Fireworks are let off as people take part in the Million Mask March in Parliament Square. Riot police have been dispatched to confiscate fireworks which have been fired towards police ranks
The Met has issued a dispersal order for Westminster, urging protestors to disband, but footage has emerged of riot police locked in a battle with rioters just metres from the Houses of Parliament
Hordes of rioters sporting Guy Fawkes masks, flares and weapons have blasted fireworks at officers, forcing riot police to force their way into the crowd to confiscate the missiles
Riot police have engaged in violent clashes with protestors outside the Houses of Parliament
Other groups of anarchists joined arms and rushed the police, leading to violent clashes and fights between the protestors and officers in Parliament Square, Trafalgar Square and Oxford Circus
Videos have emerged of protestors joining arms and rushing police officers in violent clashes, while other clips have shown the anarchists launching fireworks towards police ranks and setting Boris Johnson’s effigy alight at the foot of Nelson’s column
The Prime Minister’s effigy was set ablaze in Trafalgar Square as hundreds of protestors clash with riot police
Protestors have launched fireworks towards police, some of which have hit bystanders in the crowd according to the Met
Police officers have set up a cordon and reinforced security outside the BBC headquarters at Portland Place to protect the building from surging protestors at Oxford Circus
Videos have emerged of protestors joining arms and rushing police officers in violent clashes, while other clips have shown the anarchists launching fireworks towards police ranks and setting Boris Johnson’s effigy alight at the foot of Nelson’s column.
The police were forced to set up barricades at various locations across the capital to contain the march which protestors have vowed ‘will go down in history’.
WHAT IS THE MILLION MASK MARCH?
The Million Mask March, also known as ‘Operation Vendetta’, is an annual protest which usually takes place on November 5 to coincide with bonfire night.
It is an anti-government and anti-establishment protest which was first held in 2012 and has been held every year since in multiple cities across the world, with the protests in London and Washington D.C. being the most prominent.
The protest is closely associated with the international activist group ‘Anonymous’ and rails against government corruption, capitalist greed, and the erosion of civil liberties.
‘Anonymous’ is an international group of leftist libertarian activists, some of whom are hackers, devoted to the ideals of personal freedom and a society free of centralised power.
Many of the protestors at the Million Mask March are known for wearing full face Guy Fawkes masks styled on the graphic novel ‘V for Vendetta’.
Meanwhile, Piers Corbyn was seen joining the protestors to march the streets, one year after being arrested for breaching lockdown restrictions in last year’s march, and breathing fire to the delight of the rioters.
The Met police released a statement this morning in anticipation of the protest, saying that intelligence suggests some protestors have travelled to London to target police officers.
Mounted divisions and dog units have also been called in to support the police’s efforts to prevent the march from descending into a full-blown riot.
‘This policing plan has been developed following a continual review and thorough assessment of intelligence which suggests some groups are intent on causing disorder or targeting police officers with violence,’ said a Met spokesperson.
‘As a precaution, officers will be equipped with specialist public order uniforms and a number of protective barriers have been set up outside a number of locations in London.
Different units across the Met will also support today’s policing plan, including our public order teams, mounted branch, police dogs and the National Police Air Service.’
In a series of Twitter posts, the Met said: ‘Our policing operation on tonight’s demonstrations is underway. A group of protesters have moved from Parliament Square along Whitehall, #Westminster.
‘A number of fireworks and flares have been set off. Officers are on scene engaging with the crowd.
‘Part of the group have moved off from Trafalgar Square and are now in Leicester Square. Officers remain on scene.
‘The group continue to meander throughout central London. They are now walking northbound up Charing Cross Road towards Tottenham Court Road. There may be disruption to traffic in the area.
‘This group are now walking from Oxford Circus up Regents Street. A secondary group have returned to Parliament Square.
‘A number of officers continue to monitor both crowds.
‘A crowd in Parliament Square have been dangerously lighting fireworks and rockets. Some have struck people or exploded near to the crowd, this could cause very serious injury.
‘We have moved into the crowd to remove any fireworks and prevent people coming to harm.’
At 9pm, the Met announced they had issued a dispersal order in an attempt to urge protestors to disband as police continued to battle rioters in Parliament Square.
‘A section 35 dispersal order has been authorised for a number of areas across Westminster.
‘This includes Parliament Square. Officers are engaging with those in Parliament Square and will be advising them of this order.’
The police later confirmed the arrests of twelve people and said eight officers were injured in the clashes.
‘We have made nine arrests during tonight’s operation. Frustratingly, five of our officers have been injured.
‘We are providing them with support. A number of our officers remain in Parliament Square.’
Almost 200 people, including businessman and prominent anti-vaxxer Piers Corbyn (pictured breathing fire at tonight’s protest), were arrested in last year’s march for breaching Covid restrictions
Piers Corbyn was seen joining the protestors to march the streets, one year after being arrested for breaching lockdown restrictions in last year’s march, and breathing fire to the delight of the rioters.
Anarchists and anti-establishment protesters are marching through Westminster and Trafalgar Square touting signs and flares
Hundreds of anti-capitalist protesters, many wearing V for Vendetta face masks, gather at Trafalgar Square before moving onto Downing Street, then to the BBC headquarters before returning to Trafalgar Square
Hordes of protestors have blocked traffic in Parliament Square as they clash with police officers, many of whom are in riot gear
Protesters are pictured clashing with police officers close to Piccadilly Circus. Rioters are engaged in bitter scraps with the Met police in several locations in the capital
The Police have been forced to deploy barricades and defences with many officers donning riot gear as they clash with protestors
A protestor wearing a Guy Fawkes masks sets off a sparkler during the Million Masks March protest in Parliament square
Anarchists and anti-vaxxers carry an effigy of Boris Johnson as they parade around the streets of the capital
Hundreds of officers have been deployed to reign in the march which takes place as families and children are out in droves to celebrate bonfire night as they attend fireworks displays all over the city
Police look on as a protester holds a firework in Trafalgar Square in front of the burning effigy of Boris Johnson during ‘The Million Mask March’
A protester holds a ‘Free Julian Assange’ banner as he stands on the fountain in Trafalgar Square during ‘The Million Mask March
Giant effigies of ex-Health Secretary Matt Hancock with his lover and Guy Fawkes with Covid19 vaccine needles in his arms will burn tonight in Lewes as November 5th celebrations return after the pandemic
- Effigies will burn tonight in Lewes as country’s biggest bonfire celebrations return after last year`s was stopped by lockdown
- Lewes is famed for its topical and often controversial bonfire effigies it has burned over the years
- In 2018 Boris Johnson was portrayed holding an axe and Theresa May’s severed head before being set alight
By ISABELLA NIKOLIC FOR THE MAILONLINE
Bonfire night celebrations have returned in the UK as a giant effigy of Matt Hancock hugging his lover and Guy Fawkes wearing a face mask were spotted in Lewes.
The effigies are among those which will burn tonight in the historic East Sussex town which hosts the country’s biggest and arguably most famous November 5 celebrations, and which return after they were cancelled by coronavirus lockdowns last year.
A glum Matt Hancock is seen sitting on a rock while hugging a naked woman above a sign that reads, ‘CCTV in operation,’ a reference to his affair with Gina Coladangelo that was revealed earlier this year via his office’s CCTV cameras.
Below that, a painted caption reads `Hands, Face, Disgrace`, a play on the `Hands, Face, Space` messaging from the government that people should wash their hands, wear a face covering and social distance to protect themselves against Coronavirus.
An effigy of Guy Fawkes wearing a face mask and with vaccine needles in his arms is also set to be burned. The giant figure sits astride two barrels of `vaccine` (rather than gunpowder) and in front of a green petrol can and a toilet roll with the words `panic buyers` – a reference to the recent fuel shortages at garages across the country and stockpiling of toilet paper at the start of the pandemic.
Lewes is famed for its topical and sometimes controversial bonfire night effigies and usually attracts thousands if not tens of thousands of revellers.
In 2019 paper mache versions of Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg were seen atop a ‘Brexit rollercoaster’ which paraded down the street before being burnt.
Locals in Lewis, East Sussex marched through the town this evening carrying flaming torches and burning crosses
Bonfire night marks the capture of Guy Fawkes, a Roman Catholic mercenary who planned to blow up parliament
The East Sussex town is renowned for its elaborate November 5 celebration which was cancelled last year due to Covid-19
Each year the bonfire features a main model normally involving a gratuitous caricature of someone prominent in the news over the previous 12 months
A giant effigy of Guy Fawkes wearing a face mask with vaccine needles in his arms is seen in Lewes
A glum Matt Hancock is seen sitting on a rock while hugging a naked woman above a sign that reads, ‘CCTV in operation,’ a reference to his affair with Gina Coladangelo that was revealed earlier this year via his office’s CCTV cameras
Other effigies in Lewes feature more traditional portrayals of the gunpowder plot of 1605
And the year before that a giant portrayal of Boris Johnson holding an axe and Theresa May’s severed head was set on fire.
Two Trump figures were set alight in Lewes in 2016, at the culmination of its annual fireworks event.
Other effigies which went up in flames in Lewes included Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and David Cameron.
In 2014, Sussex Police investigated after two effigies of Alex Salmond featured as part of two bonfire societies’ displays after he lost the Scottish referendum vote as first minister.
In the same year Vladimir Putin was depicted in a mankini following Russia’s conflict with the Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea.
The Pope, Syria’s President Assad, former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Angela Merkel have all been subjected to ridicule over the years.
The Guy Fawkes effigy sits atop two wooden barrels near a petrol can and a roll of toilet paper that says ‘panic buyers’
A giant effigy depicting Guy Fawkes with Covid 19 vaccine needles in his arms and a PPE face mask is seen before being set alight later today
Six bonfire societies burn effigies every year in the town’s famed bonfire display but their identities are usually kept a secret until the night.
Given the time it takes to build them, the figures are usually media villains in the spotlight in the weeks leading up to the event.
But emergency services fear that tonight`s event may draw packed crowds which could cause the spread of coronavirus.
So warnings have been issued urging people not to be complacent over Covid and the message to stay local is ‘doubly important this year’.
Precautionary measures include no trains running after 5pm from Lewes, Glynde or Southease, while several roads around Lewes will be closed overnight and people have been encouraged to not take cars into the town.
This effigy of Donald Trump sitting on a wall was burned in Lewes in 2016
Another Trump figure was set alight in Lewes in 2016 as he rode a donkey in a sombrero and held a clown mask
An effigy of Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May paraded through the streets of Lewes in East Sussex in 2018
Effigies of Britain’s Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg and Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson are paraded through the streets of Lewes in East Sussex i n2019
Chief Superintendent Howard Hodges, who is Gold Commander for Sussex Police’s Lewes Bonfire operations, told the Lewes Argus: ‘If people are going to come, we ask them to wear masks, take lateral flow tests before and certainly not come if you have any symptoms. Don’t be complacent because the pandemic is still here.’
But bonfire-goers may be deterred from attending the event due to sub-zero temperatures seen across the country today with a very chilly start to the morning.
Temperatures dropped to -5C in southern England and -3C in the North, making it the fourth day in a row this week that the mercury has fallen below freezing.
The past three days have brought sub-zero temperatures of -1.7C at Bridgefoot in Cumbria yesterday, -2.5C at Hurn in Hampshire on Wednesday, and -1.8C at Benson in Oxfordshire on Tuesday.
Bonfire societies parade through the streets during traditional Bonfire Night celebrations in 2019
Participants parade through the town during the annual Bonfire Night festivities in Lewes in 2019
And below-average temperatures observed this week are likely to continue later this month, with forecasters expecting that high pressure near Greenland will help to push colder air from the North towards the UK.
Lewes’s controversial event found itself in hot water in 2016 when revellers who ‘blacked up’ as Zulu warriors agreed to stop after a raft of complaints.
But campaign group ‘Bonfire Against Racism’ called it a ‘racist act’ and asked the Borough Bonfire Society to ‘stop painting faces black’.
In 2016 after a visiting dance troupe from KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa threatened to boycott the event they were booked to perform at, organisers have agreed to not black up.
Troupe leader Thanda Gumede called the practice a ‘gross misrepresentation’ and Mick Symes, a committee member of the Borough Bonfire Society, agreed to stop.
Who is Guy Fawkes and what is Bonfire Night?
Bonfire Night is held on November 5 every year in the UK, and commemorates the failed ‘Gunpowder Plot’ of 1605 – when Fawkes and a mob of co-conspirators attempted to blow up the House of Lords in London to kill King James I.
The group wanted to take out the Protestant ruler and replace him with a Catholic head of state.
Fawkes managed to smuggle a staggering 36 barrels of into a cellar of the building that is home to the British Parliament. It would have been enough to level the entire palace.
But the plan was stopped when a letter was sent on November 4 warning William Parker, the 4th Baron Monteagle, to stay away from the building the next day.
As a result of the tip-off, Westminster Palace was searched, and Fawkes was found just moments before he was able to bring the house to the ground with what would have been a devastating explosion.
Although Fawkes was not the mastermind of the plot – that infamous honor belongs to Robert Catesby – he is the man most remembered and associated with the would-be assassination.
In addition to burning effigies of Fawkes on Bonfire Night, people in the UK also set off fireworks and parade through the streets.
Masks of Fawkes’ face are also commonly worn, and in recent years they have been adopted as a symbol by the online hacking group, Anonymous. They were also featured in the 2006 film, V for Vendetta.
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk