Thousands Protest Against Lockdown in London

13 people have been arrested at a protest in London in which thousands marched against the Government’s lockdown. The Guardian has the story.

Thousands marched under a heavy police presence through central London to protest against lockdown on Saturday, with at least 13 arrested.

Demonstrators gathered at Speakers’ Corner by Hyde Park at about midday, where anti-lockdown figurehead Piers Corbyn gave a speech saying he would “never take a vaccine” and falsely claiming that the scale of deaths from Covid was not dissimilar to those from flu each year.

As police surrounded him and detained a handful [sic] people as they ordered demonstrators to disperse, the crowd then marched out of the park and through London from Marble Arch. 

The march came as 62 MPs and peers wrote to the home secretary on Friday saying that allowing the police to criminalise people for protesting was “not acceptable and is arguably not lawful”, in a letter coordinated by Liberty and Big Brother Watch.

They said the right to protest was enshrined in human rights law, amid growing scrutiny of police tactics after officers forcibly dispersed demonstrators at a vigil for Sarah Everard last week.

The specific exemption to coronavirus regulations in England allowing the right to protest was removed in November, but some legal experts have said it remains a “reasonable excuse” for leaving home. It is widely accepted that transmission of coronavirus is far less likely outdoors.

At Saturday’s demonstration, police appeared to apprehend relatively small numbers of people throughout the afternoon as a helicopter hovered above. But at about 4pm officers began stepping in to separate crowds and continued to urge people to disperse, detaining some. The Metropolitan police said there were 13 confirmed arrests by around that time. Scenes back at Speaker’s Corner at 5pm were increasingly fractious.

Other protests were expected to take place elsewhere in the UK.

The BBC notes that “Scotland Yard said the number of people attending Saturday’s demonstrations exceeded expectations”.

Meanwhile, in Switzerland thousands (or, as the Guardian put it, “several“!) formed a “silent protest” against lockdown in the small northern town of Liestal.

The Guardian’s report is worth reading in full.

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