Pro-Palestinian groups defy Met Police calls to cancel demonstration on Armistice Day

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Ade Adelekan raised concerns about violence breaking out


LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 4: People protest in support of Gaza on November 4, 2023 in London, United Kingdom. The action is being held to call for a ceasefire in the Hamas-Israel conflict. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

Pro-Palestinian groups have defied calls by the Metropolitan Police to postpone a demonstration on Armistice Day.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Ade Adelekan, who leads public order policing in London, raised concerns about violence breaking out. 

The march on Saturday, according to organisers, would see demonstrators begin at Hyde Park in the capital before walking to the US Embassy but not past the Cenotaph war memorial in Whitehall.

Adelekan, who held a meeting with various groups organising the demonstration on Monday, said: “The risk of violence and disorder linked to breakaway groups is growing.

"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."

Home Secretary Suella Braverman, added: “The hate marchers need to understand that decent British people have had enough of these displays of thuggish intimidation and extremism.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the Met had the Government's "absolute and total backing" to tackle criminality.

Speaking to broadcasters, the Prime Minister said: "Remembrance Day is a time for national reflection. It is a time when I know the whole country will come together to pay tribute to those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice to keep us safe.

"I want to make sure police have our absolute and total backing to clamp down on any acts of criminality, but also to ensure public order."

Israeli President Isaac Herzog said the planned march was "atrocious". He told TalkTV on Monday evening: "I call upon all decent human beings to object to the march and ban it, because the symbol of that day is a symbol of victory.

"And it is a symbol of doing good, because when you fight evil, sometimes you have to fight. You have to fight evil in order to uproot evil."

But a coalition of groups organising the demonstration, which includes the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), the Muslim Association of Britain and Stop the War, said they were "deeply concerned" by the Met statement.

They said the force could not provide "any evidence" for why the risk of breakaway groups engaging in criminal activity would be any greater.

In a joint statement, they added: "We recognise the political pressure being placed on the police by the Government and right-wing political groups.

"However, we emphasise that they had and have a responsibility to withstand that pressure and act to uphold democratic freedoms.

"We will be holding a protest on Saturday and we invite all people of conscience to join us in peacefully marching as planned."

Meanwhile, Scotland's First Minister Humza Yousaf, who had family members trapped in Gaza for several weeks, sparked anger for saying pro-Palestinian demonstrations should go ahead.

Speaking to journalists in Dundee, the SNP leader was asked if he supported the march going ahead, saying: "Absolutely. I understand (the march) is taking place after the minute silence that we will all undoubtedly observe, I hear it's not going anywhere near Whitehall or, indeed, the Cenotaph.

"And, of course, if Armistice was about anything, my goodness, it's about peace."

The First Minister added: "I am beyond angry at the Home Secretary and the UK Government who seem to want to drive every issue into a culture war. Describing those marches as hate marches is disgraceful, unacceptable.

"Yes, in every single march, I'm afraid you'll get one or two idiots who will do and say something that we all universally condemn, but to describe those hundreds of thousands in London, in cities across the UK, including here in Scotland, as full of hate or hate marches is completely unacceptable. Frankly, this UK Government is unfit for office and certainly the Home Secretary is unfit for office."

Scottish Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw, who represents Eastwood, home to Scotland’s biggest Jewish population, told the JC: “I would appeal to pro-Palestinian protestors to postpone any planned marches on Armistice Day. This is the day when our whole nation comes together to pay tribute to all those who gave their lives for their country, defeated tyranny, including the Nazis in World War Two, and sacrificed all in conflicts before and since. 

“It is also a profoundly moving day for the surviving relatives, descendants and friends of those who made that sacrifice.

 “Sadly, legitimate pro-Palestinian protests across the UK in recent weeks have been visibly marred by a minority spouting blatantly antisemitic and dangerously provocative rhetoric which has inexcusably struck fear in Jewish communities across the UK.

“Surely, this weekend when we remember the fallen, among whom are many of those who fought and helped to end the Holocaust, other demonstrations can pause to allow us all to do so quietly and in confidence.”

It comes after four police officers were attacked with fireworks during a pro-Palestinian protest last Saturday after thousands of demonstrators gathered in Trafalgar Square. There were six arrests.

Yesterday, the JC revealed the organiser of the 2021 pro-Palestinian convoy which saw some demonstrators drive through Jewish areas screaming antisemitic abuse, including calls for rape, was planning a new protest on Saturday.

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