The Metropolitan Police have been called into question over how they policed both of last Saturday’s protests in London.
There were fears that the Cenotaph – a war memorial in central London – was going to be attacked by certain pro-Palestinian protestors on Saturday. Many on the far right – including founder and former leader of the far-right group English Defence League Tommy Robinson – descended on Whitehall to ‘protect’ the monument.
Although the police managed to separate both demonstrations in the capital, there were arrests on both sides as the far-right appeared to clash with police.
Suella Braverman, before being promptly sacked from her position as Home Secretary the following Monday, had previously described the pro-Palestinian demonstrations as ‘hate marches’.
As a consequence, there is a perception by some that the pro-Palestine demonstration was over-policed, despite most of the disorder coming from the far-right groups, backed by high-ranking government officials.
Whether the police were biased towards either group on Saturday ultimately depends on an individual’s perspective on the matter, which, ultimately, seems to the the core issue.
The right-wing football hooligans that descended on Whitehall will see any attempts by the police to enforce law and order around the Cenotaph as fundamentally ‘un-British’ and an affront to British history and culture.
Chants of ‘you’re not British anymore’ were heard as the police were caught off guard by the number of people who arrived, many were caught with weapons and class-A drugs and one officer was injured with a dislocated hip.
Ultimately, they have nobody to blame except themselves, as many were seen being arrested and dragged away despite the police’s success in keeping the two groups separate from each other.
Some pro-Palestinian protestors may interpret the heavy police presence at the Cenotaph as a clear sign as to where the police’s loyalties lie, in that they see their protests as a potential threat to British culture itself and therefore have taken the side of the hooligans/far-right crowd.
There were many arrests during this protest, but many of them seemed to come in the later afternoon and evening, by which point many journalists and news organisations had already left.
Many would interpret some of the chants (such as ‘from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’) and slogans being promoted as explicitly anti-Semitic, with many smaller groups (including one 150-strong) breaking away from the main crowd to cause trouble.
The Metropolitan Police, via X, has released a series of images of individuals they wish to speak to for committing hate crimes.
The police, unfortunately, are being perceived by certain political groups as a means to an end. If the police aren’t on their side, they’re the enemy.
This is not helped by Braverman’s comments, who has vindicated the suspicions of people who feel this way.
It no longer seems to be enough for the police to be neutral in heated matters; whatever they do – or don’t do – will be analysed and interpreted as either an attack or a victory.
The Met is continuing to identify and hunt down members of the public who are suspected to have committed hate crimes.
After Braverman’s sacking, she savaged the Prime Minister in a scathing public letter that has the potential to split the Tory party almost irreparably under Sunak’s tenure in office.
A second letter of no confidence was submitted after her letter was released to the public.
The Tory party is hoping that the police issue will not be used as a political football, as many feel as if Braverman is in the frame to take over as Prime Minister should Sunak not be able to hold onto his position.