Police were filmed retreating back to their vans after being bombarded with bottles and cans by the protestors.
Covid lockdown protesters hurled bottles at police in ugly clashes with police in Hyde Park on Saturday amid criticism of the Metropolitan Police’s handling of the Sarah Everard vigil last week.
Thousands of protesters, including Piers Corbyn and Laurence Fox, marched through the streets of London.
The protest circled round Hyde Park and continued onto Oxford Street, in defiance of lockdown measures that ban mass gatherings.
Glass bottles were hurled at police as remaining protesters refused to leave Hyde Park as darkness descended.
Police can be seen striking one protestor with a baton as others try to rip him away from their grasp.
Officers were forced to retreat back to their vans, as protesters threw bottles and cans.
A group of around one hundred chased police vehicles, punching and kicking them, as they left the area following a day of protests around central London.
Members of the public left the park, with small children carried by their parents.
Fireworks were reportedly fired at police in early skirmishes with marchers shouting “Freedom” and “We’re coming for you Boris” as they headed towards Downing Street.
Footage showed officers clashing with protesters as one was pulled to the ground and handcuffed in one of 36 arrests made so far.
Most of the arrests have been for breaching Covid-19 regulations, police said.
People taking part in an anti-lockdown protest in central London.
Demonstrators shouted “shame on you” at police, with one person carrying a banner reading “stop destroying our kids’ lives”.
Another woman held a sign which said: “Yes sex is great, but have you ever been f***ed by the Government?”
Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor, who led today’s policing
operation, said: “This was another challenging day for our officers and I
would like to thank them for their professionalism.
the day, officers sought first to engage with people who had gathered to
explain that their actions were unlawful under the COVID-19
regulations, and encouraged them to go home to help protect themselves
and others during this public health crisis.
“Where this approach did not work and officers were met with hostility, police enforced the regulations and made arrests.
Taylor added: “We once again saw police come under fire from missiles
thrown by people in crowds, and several were injured as a result of
targeted assaults. It is totally unacceptable and saddening that
officers enforcing regulations that are there to protect us all were the
victims of violent attacks. I wish them a speedy recovery.
of those on duty in central London today should have been in their
local communities dealing with violent crime and other local issues, but
they played a role in reducing the risk of COVID-19 spreading by
The letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel and Health Secretary Matt Hancock was co-ordinated by Liberty and Big Brother Watch.
Police detain a man as people take part in an anti-lockdown protest in Trafalgar Square
It comes as more than 60 MPs and peers have
signed a letter warning that allowing the police to criminalise people
for protesting is “is not acceptable and is arguably not lawful”.
include the Tory MPs Sir Charles Walker, Steve Baker, Sir Christopher
Chope and Sir Desmond Swayne and the Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed
The letter follows a public outcry over the way the
Metropolitan Police moved in to break up a vigil last week on Clapham
Common in memory of Sarah Everard.
The protest started out
peacefully before scuffles broke out at the front of a crowd as police
surrounded a bandstand covered in floral tributes to the 33-year-old
Male officers were photographed grabbing
hold of several women before leading them away in handcuffs, to shouts
and screams from onlookers.
The letter said such “shocking
scenes” were “entirely avoidable” if the Government had provided
guidance to police and ensured protests were clearly exempt from the ban
on gatherings under lockdown.
Sam Grant, head of policy and
campaigns at Liberty, said: “In a healthy democracy, protest is a
critical way we can fight for what we believe in.
“The Government’s current quasi-ban on protest is completely unacceptable.
week, the police conceded protest is not banned under the lockdown
regulations, but used them to threaten then arrest demonstrators anyway.
Home Secretary must immediately issue guidance to all police forces to
ensure socially distanced protests can go ahead and create an explicit
exemption for protest in the current regulations.”
Watch director Silkie Carlo said: “A country cannot be described as a
democracy if people do not have the freedom to protest.
“The harrowing scenes of police officers using force against women at Clapham Common recently were avoidable and wrong.
“Over the past week, many more demonstrators and even legal observers have been arrested or fined.
stain on our democracy is a direct consequence of this Government’s
disrespect for the most basic of British democratic freedoms.”