UK police impose strict rules as thousands attend London’s Million Mask March

November 5, 2016 10:30 pm

Police detain a protester attending an anti-capitalist demonstration dubbed the ‘Million Masks March’, organized by the group Anonymous, at Trafalgar Square in on November 5, 2016 to protest austerity, government policy and corporate greed. (Photo by AFP)

Thousands of masked protesters have converged in central London for the annual Million Mask March sponsored by the hacking group Anonymous to protest austerity measures, official corruption and eroding civil liberties among other causes.
Some 2,000 police officers, including riot police, were deployed to deal with the protest rally in Trafalgar Square on Saturday, fearing repeat of last year’s violence and clashes with police by an anticipated 20,000 protesters wearing trademark Guy Fawkes masks, -based daily The Guardian reported.

Anti-capitalist activists wearing masks gather ahead of the protest rally dubbed the ‘Million Masks March’ at Trafalgar Square in London on November 5, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

This is while the Scotland Yard has imposed severe restrictions on the protest rally after occurrences of attempts to invade government buildings and causing damages at the previous rallies, annually held on November 5.
The Million Mask March, organized online each year by the Anonymous, has developed into a global phenomenon, with linked rallies in many major cities, but focused mainly on London.

A firework goes off as anti-capitalist activists wearing masks hold a protest rally dubbed the ‘Million Masks March’ in London on November 5, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Conditions imposed by police under the Public Order Act restrict any “static assembly” in Trafalgar Square, a cordoned-off area opposite Downing Street on Whitehall, and the center of Parliament Square.
The conditions further dictate that protest activities must begin no earlier than 6 pm and be finished by 9 pm, and any person found to be in breach of conditions may face arrest, police authorities said.
During last year’s rally, attempts by police to block the path of protesters led to clashes and anger on both sides, with police officers striking out participants with batons and protesters responding with missiles and fireworks. Windows of businesses were smashed and a police car parked close to the parliament was set on fire.

Anti-capitalist activists wearing masks gather ahead of the protest rally dubbed the ‘Million Masks March’ in London on November 5, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Chief Police Superintendent Pippa Mills was cited as describing the protest’s nature as “anarchic” and difficult to control.
“This event is difficult compared with other events that we police because there is no organizer to engage with, so whereas normally we would work with that organizer to facilitate their protest, and they would give us an idea of numbers, we don’t have that with this,” she said, rejecting suggestions that policing at last year’s rally was heavy-handed.
The Million Mask March 2016 Facebook page called on protesters to assemble at 6 pm at Trafalgar Square and then move on after numbers are high enough.

Anti-capitalist activists wearing masks gather ahead of the protest rally dubbed the ‘Million Masks March’ at Trafalgar Square in London on November 5, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

“We have seen the abuses and malpractice of this government, and governments before it, we have seen the encroaching destruction of many civil liberties we hold dear, we have seen the pushes to make the internet yet another part of the surveillance state, we have seen the government’s disregard for migrants, for the poor, the elderly and the disabled, we have seen the capital, profit and greed of the few put before the well-being of the many and we say enough is enough,” read the post.
It further urged “all the activists, the workers, the students, all doctors, nurses and all those that want to see a positive change in the world” to join the protest event on Saturday insisting, “The government and the 1% have played their hand, now it is time to play ours.”
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