Police clashed with Covid lockdown protestors in London today after outrage at Metropolitan Police’s handling of the Sarah Everard vigil last week.
Demonstrators were hauled away by officers at the protest in Hyde Park at around midday.
Hundreds of protesters met at the park before police broke up the proceedings and made arrests.
Police officers detain a demonstrator in Hyde Park, London, during a protest against lockdown today
A demonstrator is pushed to the ground by police after outrage at Metropolitan Police’s handling of the Sarah Everard vigil last week
Officers pulled protesters down to the ground and cuffed them while demonstrators shouted ‘shame on you’.
London Metropolitan Police have been approached for comment.
It comes as more than 60 MPs joined campaign groups Big Brother Watch and Liberty in writing to the Home Secretary to say it is a human right to demonstrate.
Tories Steve Baker and Sir Christopher Chope as well as Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey and Labour MPs Diane Abbott and Dawn Butler signed the letter.
Anti-lockdown protesters are arrested in Hyde Park, London, today
Police officers detain a demonstrator in Hyde Park during a protest against the lockdown today
A man is restrained by five police officers as others hold back demonstrators filming the arrest
They are calling on Ms Patel to tell police to ‘facilitate’ protests and avoid forcing them to ‘decipher precisely what is required’.
The letter said: ‘The absence of clear guidance on these issues has created an entirely unsatisfactory situation, which has persisted to varying degrees for almost a year now.
‘The police have no legal certainty as to their duties and powers, protestors have no legal certainty as to their rights, and there is inconsistent application of the Regulations across the country. This cannot continue.’
More than 60 MPs joined campaign groups Big Brother Watch and Liberty in writing to the Home Secretary (pictured on Monday) to say it is a human right to demonstrate
Police detain a woman as people gather at a memorial site in Clapham Common Bandstand, following the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard, in London, on March 13
A demonstration at New Scotland Yard on the embankment in London following the killing of Sarah Everard
But the Home Office doubled down on its position that it is still illegal to leave home without and exemption until March 29.
A spokesman said: ‘While we are still in a pandemic we continue to urge people to avoid mass gatherings, in line with wider coronavirus restrictions.’
There have been constant anti-lockdown protests throughout the pandemic, often attended by conspiracy theorist Piers Corbyn.
But over the last week demonstrations were sparked after the police’s handling of a vigil to Sarah Everard. A policeman is facing a charge of murder and abduction.
Organisers cancelled the service at Clapham Common, London, last weekend, but hundreds still attended and clashed with officers.
The day before they had failed to persuade the High Court to overrule the Met in allowing the event to be held.
The judge ruled he would not intervene but hinted human rights of expression and gathering could be considered acceptable excuses.
On Sunday and Monday people took to the streets of Westminister and gathered outside Downing Street and in Parliament Square in protest.
The letters ACAB – All Cops Are B******s – were scrawled above a list honouring the airmen who died in the Second World War battle on Tuesday
The protests were sparked by the murder of Sarah Everard and are being led by a feminist group accused of ‘hijacking’ her death on Tuesday
Which MPs and Peers signed Liberty and Big Brother Watch’s letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel?
- Diane Abbott MP
- Steve Baker MP
- Paula Barker MP
- Apsana Begum MP
- Lord Beith
- Baroness Natalie Bennett
- Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury
- Lord Bradshaw
- Baroness Brinton
- Richard Burgon MP
- Dawn Butler MP
- Dan Carden MP
- Alistair Carmichael MP
- Baroness Shami Chakrabarti
- Sir Christopher Chope MP
- Wendy Chamberlain MP
- Daisy Cooper MP
- Sir Edward Davey MP
- Geraint Davies MP
- Tim Farron MP
- Baroness Featherstone
- Richard Fuller MP
- Lord Greaves
- Chris Green MP
- Baroness Hamwee
- Baroness Harris of Richmond
- Wera Hobhouse MP
- Rachel Hopkins MP
- Christine Jardine MP
- Baroness Jenny Jones
- Baroness Jolly Mary
- Kelly Foy MP
- Ian Lavery MP
- Clive Lewis MP
- Tony Lloyd MP
- Caroline Lucas MP
- Baroness Ludford
- Lord McNally
- Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer
- Andrew Mitchell MP
- Layla Moran MP
- Lord Oates
- Sarah Olney MP
- Kate Osborne MP
- Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP
- Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP
- Virendra Sharma MP
- Baroness Sheehan
- Jamie Stone MP
- Lord Strasburger
- Zarah Sultana MP
- Sir Desmond Swayne
- Lord Taylor of Goss Moor
- Baroness Thornhill
- Lord Tyler Sir Charles Walker MP
- Lord Wallace of Saltaire
- Baroness Walmsley
- Claudia Webbe MP
- Mick Whitley MP
- Munira Wilson MP
- Nadia Whittome MP
Director of Big Brother Watch Silkie Carlo said: ‘The harrowing scenes of police officers using force against women at Clapham Common recently were avoidable and wrong.
‘Over the past week, many more demonstrators and even legal observers have been arrested or fined.
‘This stain on our democracy is a direct consequence of this government’s disrespect for the most basic of British democratic freedoms.’
Sam Grant from Liberty added: ‘Last week, the police conceded protest is not banned under the lockdown regulations, but used them to threaten then arrest demonstrators anyway.
‘The home secretary must immediately issue guidance to all police forces to ensure socially distanced protests can go ahead and create an explicit exemption for protest in the current regulations.’
Ms Patel has asked Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary to ‘conduct a lessons-learned review into the policing of the event’ at Clapham Common.
More protests are expected this weekend but the Met said a ‘significant policing operation’ will be underway to ‘engage’ with lockdown flouters.
It added: ‘Those gathering will be encouraged to return home. If they do not they face necessary and proportionate enforcement action. This could be a fixed penalty notice or arrest.’
A number of demonstrations are expected to take place in the capital, including a rally at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park to support Piers Corbyn’s mayoral bid.
The brother of the former Labour leader has been at the forefront of the anti-lockdown movement since restrictions were imposed a year ago.
There are also expected to be protests against plans to give police in England and Wales more power to impose conditions on non-violent protests, including those deemed too noisy or a nuisance.
Dame Cressida Dick’s tenure as chief of the Metropolitan Police is ‘unlikely’ to be renewed following the anger over her officers’ handling of Sarah Everard‘s vigil.
Ms Patel is not expected to extend her contract at Scotland Yard when it expires in April next year, government sources claimed last night.
Britain’s most senior officer has been put on notice after widespread condemnation of how the Clapham Common memorial was policed last weekend.
Officers arrested and pinned down women attending the event in honour of the 33-year-old marketing executive Ms Everard.
Dame Cressida faced calls to quit from across the political spectrum and was criticised by both the Home Secretary and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.
Ms Patel said she was ‘shocked at the way in which Saturday night’s vigil was policed’, while Mr Khan was ‘not satisfied’ with Dame Cressida’s explanation.
Yet she refused to bow to pressure and lambasted ‘armchair’ critics who she said failed to grasp the complexities of policing during the pandemic.
But insiders believe last week’s saga was the final straw in what is being viewed in government as a mounting catalogue of blunders.
Dame Cressida came under fire last year for her handling of London’s Black Lives Matter protests, which spiralled into chaos and saw violence.
A source told The Times: ‘Cressida is not seen as having done a great job… The general expectation is that her contract won’t be extended.’
Ms Patel said she retained ‘full confidence’ in the Met comissioner and the source stressed the pair have a strong working relationship.
Priti Patel (left) is not expected to extend Dame Cressida Dick’s (right) contract at Scotland Yard when it expires in April next year, government sources claimed last night
In the wake of the protests Mr Khan, who is up for reelection in May, said he did not believe the capital’s streets were safe for young women.
He told LBC: ‘No, they aren’t – or for girls – and it’s really important that people of my gender understand that.
‘If you’re a woman or a girl, your experiences of our city, in any public space, whether it’s in the workplace on the streets, on public transport is very different to if you are a man or a boy, and it’s really important that people like me in positions of power and influence understand that and take steps to address that.’
After last week’s protests Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey called on the Commissioner to ‘consider’ her leadership of the force, adding: ‘Cressida Dick has lost the confidence of the millions of women in London and should resign.’
Women’s Equality Party co-founder Catherine Mayer said her position was ‘untenable’.