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Head of anti-monarchy protesters released after 16 hours in police custody

07 May 2023 3 minute read
Anti monarchy protest material being confiscated in central London. Photo Labour for a Republic

The chief executive of an anti-monarchy group who was among 52 people arrested on the day of the King’s coronation has been released after nearly 16 hours in police custody.

Graham Smith was released by the Met Police around 11pm on Saturday, while the majority of his Republic colleagues continued to be held.

Posting to Twitter, Mr Smith said there was “no longer a right to peaceful protest in the UK”.

“I have been told many times the monarch is there to defend our freedoms. Now our freedoms are under attack in his name.”

The Metropolitan Police has been heavily criticised over the detentions, with some campaign groups likening the “incredibly alarming” arrests to “something you would expect to see in Moscow, not London”.

The force confirmed 52 people were arrested for affray, public order offences, breach of the peace and conspiracy to cause a public nuisance around the coronation.

Metropolitan Police Commander Karen Findlay acknowledged concerns about the arrest of protesters but defended Scotland Yard’s actions, saying: “Our duty is to do so in a proportionate manner in line with relevant legislation.”

Also arrested on Saturday were members of Just Stop Oil and Labour for a Republic.

The Met said it received information that protesters were “determined to disrupt” the coronation – including defacing public monuments with paint, breaching barriers and disrupting official movements.

Dangerous

But campaigners said the protests were “peaceful”, describing the arrests as “a dangerous precedent for us as a democratic nation”.

The force confirmed reports from Just Stop Oil that 13 demonstrators were detained on the Mall and six public nuisance arrests on St Martin’s Lane following protests from Republic.

Three people were also apprehended in Soho, three at Wellington Arch and five on Whitehall on conspiracy to cause public nuisance, with another in Whitehall arrested for religiously aggravated behaviour likely to cause harassment.

The Met said a further 14 people were detained in east London on suspicion of conspiracy to cause a public nuisance.

Footage from the Mall showed the Just Stop Oil protesters being handcuffed and taken away by a heavy police presence.

Animal Rising said a number of its supporters were apprehended on Saturday while at a training session “miles away from the coronation”.

Nathan McGovern, spokesman for the campaign group, described the arrests as “nothing short of a totalitarian crackdown on free speech and all forms of dissent”.

Human Rights Watch labelled the arrests “incredibly alarming”, adding: “This is something you would expect to see in Moscow, not London.”

Amnesty International’s chief executive Sacha Deshmukh also raised concerns after police were reportedly given instructions to apprehend people with megaphones.

Separately, Westminster Council cabinet member for communities and public protection Aicha Less said she was “deeply concerned” over reports of arrests of members of its Night Star volunteer team, who assist vulnerable people on the streets late at night.

“We are working with the Metropolitan Police to establish exactly what happened, and in the meantime, we are in touch with our volunteers to ensure they are receiving the support they need,” she said.


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Riki
Riki
9 months ago

The UK is literal filth. Imagine being arrested for wanting everyone to be seen and treated the same. That is the real aim behind being an anti-monarchist. No one is born superior! Their rubbish’s stinks the same as the rest of ours, and their blood is as red. Unless the conspiracy theorists are correct ofcourse! Lol.

Cat
Cat
9 months ago

Crikey! I read the headline and thought for a moment we had gone back to beheading those opposing the monarchy. Its only a matter of time ….

Geraint
Geraint
9 months ago

CNN have reported it as ,’something out of a police state’. Uncomfortable to read, but needs to be said.

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
9 months ago

Apparently one of those arrested was carted off to a police station and detained for commiting the grave offence of wearing a tshirt a police officer took exception to. And it beggars belief that women in london were having rape alarms taken off them by the met police yesterday. Seems we are back to the bad old days of the early 80s immortalised in that NTNON sketch where an overzealous met officer was reprimanded for arresting someone who had ‘worn a loud shirt in a built up area’. That of course was a parody – the uk tory govt’s new… Read more »

Glynn Hughes
Glynn Hughes
9 months ago

I was there yesterday. It’s criminal behaviour by the establishment. We have planned this event with them for months and just like the school bully they turn up and pinch your placards and arrest people. Actions like this will drive organisations underground where tactics will change and there will be no more police liaisons. We must up our game against these selfish people.

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
9 months ago
Reply to  Glynn Hughes

My total respect to you for being there. In my view you are a hero for standing up to that elitist and haughty, corrupt system.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
9 months ago

Three young London males were stabbed to death within 8 hours of each other on Friday. Where were the Met…getting ready to protect a divine billionaire from placards, of course!

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
9 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

I lived in London in the late 70’s when the SPG (special patrol group) ruled the streets, Braverman would have loved those days, but hey, her TSG is three times the size…

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
9 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

You are absolutely correct. Three young men with all their lives ahead of them have died while the publicly-funded police were acting as security for a billionaire, who could well have afforded to pay for security himself!

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
9 months ago

I hope those victims of police abuse sue them under the European Convention on Human Rights. Freedom of association, freedom of expression etc. are fundamental human rights (even if they are inconvenient for the Tory Party and Windsor regime).

So much for ‘new’, ‘relevant’, ‘inclusive’ and all the other lies they have peddled about that coronation charade!

Simon Davies
Simon Davies
9 months ago
Reply to  Mr Williams

This is why the tories plan to leave European convention on human rights.

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
9 months ago

This expensive coronation charade (while many are struggling to pay bills) and the mistreatment of peaceful protesters really shows how bad the ‘Union’ (that we are constantly being told is beneficial to us) really is.

If only the people, and politicians, of Wales would wake up and put an end to this.

Many other European countries have thrived after becoming independent: e.g. Norway, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Malta. Let’s join them!

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
9 months ago
Reply to  Mr Williams

Sadly Malta GC became, like Cyprus and Britain, a haven for Oligarchs, stolen money and KGB criminals who could afford the citizenship charges…

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
9 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

That’s a shame about Malta and Cyprus, and I am sure you are correct. However, I do envy that they have sovereignty over their own affairs (despite Cyprus’ unfortunate recent history), as no longer part of the British Empire.

Perhaps the other countries I named stand as better examples for us.

Frank
Frank
9 months ago

The police and armed forces exist only to protect the royals, government, the well-heeled and titled from the masses. Whether these priviliged people are completely out of order the police and military will still protect them. However, even if the masses were right they would not be supported and protected in the same manner. They are not there for our benefit…… we just pay for them. The minority rules…… and we allow it!!!!

The original mark
The original mark
9 months ago
Reply to  Frank

They all swear to serve and protect the monarch and his/her heirs, nothing in the oath about us commoners.

Steve Woods
Steve Woods
9 months ago

If in doubt the police always cite conspiracy, particularly as in English law one – unlike other jurisdictions – there is no need to identify co-conspirators.

G Horton-Jones.
G Horton-Jones.
9 months ago

A repeat of what happened to Wellsh people during the investiture of Carlo as Prince of Wales

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