London protest: Crowds march through capital as part of weekend of demonstrations

26 June 2021, 13:50 | Updated: 26 June 2021, 16:44

By Asher McShane

Anti-lockdown protesters, anti-austerity campaigners and environmentalists were staging protests in London today with large crowds seen marching through the capital's streets.

The Metropolitan police warned officers to prepare for “a busy weekend” policing the multiple demonstrations taking place in London on Saturday and Sunday.

The Met police announced it had arrested 12 people as part of a crackdown on demonstrators ahead of the protests. Police said they seized items including bamboo structures, lock-on equipment and other objects which could be used to cause criminal damage and obstructions.

As part of the broad anti-government protest, a mixture of pro Corbyn supporters, Stop the War protesters, pro Palestine, Kill the Bill and anti-lockdown protesters all marched in central London.

Extinction Rebellion (XR) protesters also joined the demonstration saying they are planning to “stand together to turn their back on a return to business as usual after Covid-19 and demand a new normal."

XR is planning a separate climate protest in London on Sunday.

Protesters were seen walking down Oxford Street today in large numbers after gathering at Hyde Park carrying banners in support of Palestine while others held aloft anti-lockdown slogans.

Chief Inspector Joe Stokoe from the Met’s Public Order Command said: “We know a number of people will be visiting London on Saturday and Sunday in order to protest. Our policing plan will be proportionate with officers engaging with those protesting to help them ensure any gathering is lawful, safe and doesn’t cause serious disruption."

Drums, whistling and chanting from the anti-lockdown protest can be heard for some distance around, with people young and old taking part.

The protestors converged in the streets outside Downing Street.

One speaker stood on a plinth near Embankment Station and told crowds: "We are here to take our freedom back."

Participant Iain McCausland travelled to London from Devon to attend the rally. He said: "The main reason I'm here is because I feel this lockdown has come at the cost of our liberty and rights.

"Our freedom to assemble, our freedom to travel, and work. I'm really quite angry with the Government, so are everyone here."

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Protestors have also thrown tennis balls over the fence and into the grounds of Parliament.

Asked why protesters are throwing tennis balls, one man, who did not wish to be named, said: "They have little messages on them. Most of them are not very nice."