Anti-maskers joined the annual Million Mask March in London tonight, clashing with police as they protested against England’s second national lockdown.
Hundreds of people gathered in Trafalgar Square and marched to the Strand shortly after 6pm, chanting ‘freedom’ and ‘stand up’ and ‘take our country back’.
Many of them waved placards, one of which read: ‘No more lockdown, no more cover ups, no more masks, no more lies!’
The protest coincided with the Million Mask March, a worldwide annual protest associated with the anti-establishment hacktivist group Anonymous.
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Demonstrators traditionally wear the Guy Fawkes masks from the Graphic Novel V for Vendetta as a symbol of rebellion against totalitarianism.
The rally saw both the City of London and Metropolitan police forces urging people to go home, with one officer shouting: ‘You are breaking the law’.
New lockdown restrictions in England require people to stay at home other than for a specific set of reasons, such as for work, school, shopping for essentials or exercise.
Among the crowd was Jeremy Corbyn’s brother Piers, 73, who was there with a megaphone despite receiving a £10,000 fine for a previous demonstration.
Four protesters, one of whom was wearing a Guy Fawkes mask, were arrested close to the gates of Charring Cross Station. It is not known how many others were detained in other locations.
Shortly after 7pm, a smaller demonstration gathered near Primark on Oxford Street, where a number of protesters were grouped in by two lines of officers.
Those clustered in by police chanted ‘stand up’ while officers encouraged protesters gathered nearby to go home.
One of them told demonstrators: ‘You need to leave, you are breaching coronavirus restrictions.’
A number of police vans and officers were still in place on Oxford Street shortly before 8pm, while a number of protesters remained grouped together.
Condemning the protesters’ actions, the Metropolitan Police tweeted: ‘A small group have gathered in #TrafalgarSquare to protest tonight.
‘Officers are talking with those there and directing them to go home. If they do not, officers will take enforcement action.
‘We remain in a national health crisis and new heightened restrictions have been brought in to limit the spread of coronavirus.
‘This action is being taken to keep everyone safe. A policing plan will remain in place throughout the night.’
In a later update, the force said: ‘A large crowd of protesters are at Oxford Street and continue to gather.
‘Arrests have been made as demonstrators failed to comply with the directions of officers.
‘We continue to urge people to go home. We remain in a health crisis.’
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