Just Stop Oil activists were seen lying on the ground near the Cenotaph today in the latest protest near the hallowed war memorial – as calls grow for a ban on pro-Palestine demonstrations on Armistice Day.
Around 40 members of the eco-mob were filmed near the monument on Whitehall this morning. One officer said the protesters had been moved to the Cenotaph ‘to get them off the road’, adding: ‘It was for their own safety – it’s quite a busy road.’
JSO oil said protesters were slow marching down Whitehall when they were stopped by a line of police near the iconic memorial. A spokesman added: ‘Our supporters are refusing to cooperate with the police and many of them lay down on the ground. It was pure coincidence that this happened to be near the Cenotaph.’
Despite JSO’s insistence it was not targeting the memorial, the group’s latest stunt will raise fresh fears about potential disruption to this Armistice Day commemorations in London on Saturday, November 11.
Today, Rishi Sunak’s spokesman said plans for a major pro-Palestine protest was ‘provocative and disrespectful’ and warned any desecration of monuments or incidents of racial hatred would be an ‘affront to the public’.
Last Saturday, a poppy seller was forced to pack up and leave Waverley station in Edinburgh as pro-Palestine protesters staged a concourse sit in – after three collectors were surrounded by a chanting crowd at Charing Cross.
Just Stop Oil clowns today brought Whitehall to a grinding halt as they marched towards the Cenotaph
Photographs show the eco-zealots blocking Whitehall city while playing dead as officers stand around them
Footage shows chanting protesters holding a large banner reading ‘Freedom for Palestine ‘ directly in front of an elderly man wearing a red beret
Mr Khan, the Labour mayor of the capital, said online that the Metropolitan Police have his ‘full support in taking action’ after the JSO protest.
‘Targeting the Cenotaph is completely unacceptable and deeply disrespectful towards those who gave their lives for our country,’ he wrote.
‘Tackling climate change is a vital cause but this isn’t the way to go about it.’
The tweet was later removed, as was another by Labour’s shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, who wrote that ‘targeting the Cenotaph is totally unacceptable’.
Today, Just Stop Oil accused politicians who claimed they targeted the war memorial of spreading ‘lies’.
In a statement, the eco-group said: ‘The slow march was moving down Whitehall when it was stopped by a line of police near the Cenotaph. Our supporters are refusing to cooperate with the police and many of them lay down on the ground. It was pure coincidence that this happened to be near the Cenotaph.’
Earlier today, JSO smashed the protective glass on the Rokeby Venus oil painting at the National Gallery in a stunt they claimed emulated the Suffragettes in the early 20th Century.
Last Saturday, hundreds of rowdy pro-Palestine demonstrators gathered Waverley station in Edinburgh as part of a rally in support of a ceasefire.
Footage shows protesters holding a large banner reading ‘Freedom for Palestine’ directly in front of an elderly man wearing a red beret. He appears to be being spoken to by station staff.
Later, the Scottish Poppy Appeal confirmed its stall had packed up and left early because of the protest. Sources told the Scottish Daily Express that staff at Waverley offered assistance to its volunteers.
Activists were seen encircling British Legion poppy sellers during another sit-in protest on Saturday at Charing Cross in London, prompting condemnation from veterans minister Johnny Mercer.
A major pro-Palestine protest is planned in central London on Armistice Day, prompting calls for it to be banned over concerns it could disrupt commemorative events.
Today, Rishi Sunak’s spokesman said the event was ‘provocative and disrespectful’ and warned any desecration of monuments or incidents of racial hatred would be an ‘affront to the public’.
Claire Coutinho, the energy secretary, today called for protesters to show ‘respect’ and said ‘the culture of this country’ would not accept disruption to Remembrance events.
However, Scottish First Minister said the protests should ‘absolutely’ go ahead.
Speaking to journalists in Dundee, Mr Yousaf said: ‘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.
Today footage emerged of a young girl being held on an adult’s shoulders as she led a chant of ‘from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’ at a protest in Trafalgar Square. Critics say the chant is a call for the destruction of Israel.
A close up of the man in a red beret. Later, the Scottish Poppy Appeal confirmed its stall had packed up and left early because of the protest
Another video of the poppy seller at Waverley station in Edinburgh
Chanting demonstrators were seen encircling British Legion poppy sellers during another sit-in protest on Saturday at Charing Cross in London
A major pro-Palestine protest is planned in central London on Armistice Day. Today, Rishi Sunak’s spokesman said the demonstration was ‘provocative and disrespectful’
Mounted officers surround the Cenotaph war memorial on Whitehall on Saturday, November 4
Met chief Sir Mark Rowley has the option to write to Home Secretary Suella Braverman and ask her to approve a ban on the Armistice Day protest if there is a risk of serious disorder.
But the force has yet to commit to doing so and last night said: ‘We are keeping the possible use of this legislation under constant review.’
Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden has said he had ‘grave concerns’ about this Saturday’s pro-Palestine march.
He said there had been ‘hateful conduct’ at previous marches in the capital and he was worried this weekend’s planned protests could become violent.
Sergeant Jay Baldwin, 38, who lost his legs in Afghanistan, is among those calling for the demonstration to be called off.
He told The Sun: ‘What is happening in the Middle East is terrible.
‘But next weekend is when we remember those who have fallen whilst defending our freedom and our life as it is today — it’s not a time for political demos.’
Former Staff Sergeant Wayne Ingram, 54, said: ‘I feel disgusted that these protests are going ahead.
‘Those who are taking part must show some respect for our veterans.’
Police were forced to close Charing Cross station in central London on Saturday when pro-Palestine protesters occupied the concourse.
A photo showed a group of three dismayed looking poppy sellers who had been surrounded by activists staging the sit-in.
After seeing the photo, Veterans minister Johnny Mercer offered to lend a hand, writing: ‘If anyone knows these poppy sellers please DM me. I will try and rattle a tin with them tomorrow.’
He added: ‘London is a big city; there are plenty of areas to protest – the right for which Servicemen and women are proud to serve – without appearing to try and intimidate ordinary citizens trying to collect a bit of cash for Poppy Day – a non-political symbol.’
Four officers were injured near Trafalgar Square by masked activists who shot fireworks at them.
Meanwhile, protesters on the Tube were heard chanting ‘smash the Zionist settler state’.
Overall, 29 people were arrested for offences including inciting racial hatred and assaulting a police officer.
Last night the Met said six people had been charged with public order offences.
Scotland Yard also said it had ‘received intelligence that a pamphlet purported to support Hamas was on sale’ at the protest.
Sergeant Jay Baldwin, 38, who lost his legs in Afghanistan , was among those calling for the demonstration to be called off
Former Staff Sergeant Wayne Ingram, 54, said of the Armistice Day march: ‘I feel disgusted that these protests are going ahead’
Pro-Palestine protesters stage a sit-in protest at Charing Cross in London on Saturday
A youngster clutches a small box from his McDonald’s meal as his family steer him through a crowd of pro-Palestinian activists shouting ‘shame on you’
Protesters could be seen smirking to themselves as they hounded families leaving the fast food restaurant
Elsewhere in London, grinning pro-Palestine activists could be seen laughing to themselves as they hounded families leaving McDonald’s.
A young child, clutching a small bright red and yellow McDonald’s box, was among those leaving the restaurant under the watchful eye of police.
The fast food chain has been the focus of a number of pro-Gazan protest actions – including the release of mice in restaurants – because Israeli franchises have been offering discounted food to Israel Defence Forces soldiers.
Other McDonald’s franchises in the Middle East – including those in Oman and Pakistan – have distanced themselves from the Israeli franchise’s actions, reports Newsweek.
McDonalds’ parent corporation has slammed the ‘disinformation and inaccurate reports’ around the controversy.
It said a man was arrested yesterday after allegedly being heard making anti-Semitic comments in Parliament Square.
Mr Dowden said: ‘There is hateful conduct in those marches.
‘You have had those chants of things like jihad – they are an affront not just to the Jewish community, they should be an affront to all of British society.
‘And I think all of us should be calling out that kind of thing, and I think people who are on those marches need to ask themselves whether they are lending support to that kind of thing.’
Thousands of activists holding ‘free Palestine’ banners in Trafalgar Square on Saturday
Claire Coutinho, the energy secretary, today called for protesters to show ‘respect’ and told Sky News ‘the culture of this country’ would not accept disruption to Remembrance events
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley has the option to write to Home Secretary Suella Braverman and ask her to approve a ban on a protest if there is a risk of serious disorder (File Photo)
Police push demonstrators back as they attempt to prevent police vans from leaving the scene of a protest in central London over the weekend
Labour defence spokesman John Healey said the rally should be allowed to go ahead if the protesters were respectful.
‘In a democracy like ours the right to free speech and protest is fundamental but there has to be a respect for the Remembrance service, for all cenotaphs and memorials, for the two minutes’ silence on Saturday, not just the Remembrance parade on Sunday,’ he added.
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign and others involved in the Armistice Day march due to be held on November 11 have pledged to keep the route away from Whitehall and the Cenotaph and will meet police chiefs again today for further talks.
The march is also not expected to start until 12.45pm, almost two hours after the two-minute silence to commemorate soldiers killed in the First World War and subsequent conflicts.
But there are fears groups could splinter from the main crowd and clash with Right-wing counter-protesters who plan to surround the Cenotaph. The following day – November 12, Remembrance Sunday – the King and other members of the Royal Family will lead the nation in a national service of remembrance at the Cenotaph.
The Met said thousands of officers would be deployed, insisting that anyone intent on causing disruption would not succeed.
A spokesman said: ‘As in recent weeks, we have been speaking to the organisers of the pro-Palestine march… We will continue to speak to them.
We fully appreciate the national significance of Armistice Day. Thousands of officers will be deployed in an extensive security operation and we will use all powers and tactics at our disposal to ensure that anyone intent on disrupting it will not succeed.’
Mrs Braverman had described Saturday’s upcoming rally as a ‘hate march’. In response to a tweet from the Prime Minister in which Rishi Sunak referred to the plans as ‘provocative and disrespectful,’ Mrs Braverman wrote: ‘It is entirely unacceptable to desecrate Armistice Day with a hate march through London.’
Another day of angry demonstrations on Saturday saw fireworks fired at police officers on Trafalgar Square
Mr Dowden said he continued to be surprised that the same abhorrence shown toward most forms of racism did not seem to have been applied to anti-Semitism.
He added: ‘I am a bit disappointed that if you look at the moral indignation and the clarity that we saw after the murder of George Floyd in the United States with the Black Lives Matter movement, we haven’t seen, across civic society, the same kind of moral clarity showing Jewish lives matter.’
Demonstrators have threatened to occupy more rail stations in the capital this weekend after more than 30,000 people descended on Trafalgar Square on Saturday, some chanting anti- Israeli songs and held anti- Semitic placards.
Some shouted the slogan ‘from the river to the sea’ and one held a banner with the message ‘If I don’t steal it somebody else is going to steal it – Israeli proverb’.
A woman was also seen holding a placard bearing an image of the Star of David being thrown in a dustbin.