Pensioner carrying British flag charged with racially abusing protesters on London pro-Palestine march

15 October 2023, 17:36 | Updated: 15 October 2023, 19:19

Crowds of protesters during the pro-Palestine march on Saturday
Crowds of protesters during the pro-Palestine march on Saturday. Picture: Getty

By Kit Heren

A man who was carrying a Union flag was arrested after being accused of hurling racist abuse at Palestine supporters during a march in London on Saturday.

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Tens of thousands of people gathered in central London on Saturday, to protest Israel's reaction to Hamas' attack on its people last weekend. There were fifteen arrests during and after the protest.

Robert McKenzie, a 68-year-old from Norfolk, has been charged with intentionally causing racially aggravated harassment, alarm or distress.

Officers said the fact that he was carrying the flag was "in no way" the reason for his arrest.

"The man was arrested after shouting racial abuse at those gathered in Whitehall and making similar racist comments to an officer who spoke with him," the Met Police said on Sunday.

"The man was in possession of a UK flag.

"This was in no way the reason for his arrest and forms no part of the charges against him."

McKenzie has been bailed until a court appearance on November 2.

Read more: Hundreds gather outside Parliament at vigil for Israeli victims of Hamas attacks

Read more: Hamas wants a 'wider Arab-Israeli war', warns Foreign Secretary as UK makes 'every effort' to protect Britons

Meanwhile officers are also appealing for help identifying two women at the protest who appeared to be wearing images with hang gliders stuck onto the back of their clothes. Some of the Hamas members who attacked Israelis arrived via hang glider.

Of the fifteen arrested overall, one man - 20-year-old Aldib Nour from St George's Circus in Southwark - has been charged with possession of a knife.

Ibrahim Hlaiyil, 38, was charged with failing to remove a face covering when instructed. Both men have been bailed pending court dates.

Nine police officers were hurt during the protests, and one youth was given a referral to a youth offending team for assaulting an emergency worker.

Two more young people were referred to similar teams for possession of a firework in a public place and failing to comply with a requirement to remove a face covering.

A 20-year-old man from north-east London was given a penalty notice for setting off a firework in public.

Officers said enquiries continue into four males who were bailed, three of whom were arrested on suspicion of assaulting an emergency worker. The fourth was arrested for threatening behaviour.

A man arrested on suspicion of criminal damage to a police vehicle has been released under investigation

More than 1,000 Israelis have died and over 2,000 Palestinians have also been killed in the ensuing conflict and brewing humanitarian disaster.

Thousands more on both sides have been wounded.

A full ground invasion of Gaza by the Israel Defence Force is expected imminently, with civilians urged to head to the south of the territory.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to "demolish" Hamas in response to the atrocities it committed in the south of Israel last weekend.

The Israeli government has told about a million people from the north of Gaza to move to the south to avoid the invading force, a move that has sparked outcry among many human rights groups.

On Sunday, hundreds of people gathered outside the Houses of Parliament for a vigil to remember the victims of Hamas' attacks in Israel. No word of any arrests had been released by early Sunday evening.