Met Police urges pro-Palestinian march organisers to delay demo

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By Sean Seddon
BBC News

The Metropolitan Police has urged the organisers of pro-Palestinian demonstrations to postpone events due to take place on Armistice Weekend.

Thousands are expected to take part in a march in London on 11 November, the same day some Remembrance events are planned in the capital.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has previously called the timing of planned protests “disrespectful”.

Organisers had said they would avoid the area where the Cenotaph is located.

But the Met warned of a “growing” risk of violence and disorder fuelled by breakaway groups linked to the protests.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Ade Adelekan said: “This is of concern ahead of a significant and busy weekend in the capital.

“Our message to organisers is clear: Please, we ask you to urgently reconsider. It is not appropriate to hold any protests in London this weekend.”

A statement from the Met said it had spoken with organisers on Monday from several groups, and that they had “declined to postpone” any demonstrations.

The pro-Palestinian march is due to take place between Hyde Park – roughly a mile from the Cenotaph – and the US Embassy in Vauxhall on Saturday. No large demonstration is planned for Remembrance Sunday.

Organisers have also pointed out the Saturday march is due to begin almost two hours after the national two minutes’ silence of commemoration.

The Met has so far stopped short of invoking a public order law whereby it can ask the Home Secretary Suella Braverman to ban a demonstration from taking place.

Both the prime minister and Ms Braverman have criticised the timing of the march.

Mr Sunak said on Friday: “To plan protests on Armistice Day is provocative and disrespectful, and there is a clear and present risk that the Cenotaph and other war memorials could be desecrated, something that would be an affront to the British public and the values we stand for.”

He added that the police had the government’s “full support in making robust use of all your powers to protect Remembrance activity”, in a letter to Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley.

Ms Braverman has previously described pro-Palestinian protests as “hate marches”.

In a statement released before the Met’s public call for the march to be postponed, organisers The Palestine Solidarity Campaign said: “We have made clear that we have no intention of marching on or near Whitehall, in order not to disrupt events at the Cenotaph.”

Civil liberties group Liberty said police “should not be able to pick and choose what people can speak out about on any given day”, adding “shutting down” protests would be a “wildly disproportionate response”.

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