London (CNN) The Metropolitan Police in London said it had made 52 arrests during coronation to King Charles III On Saturday, the force faces increasing scrutiny over its stance on anti-monarchy protesters.
thousands Collected In central London on Saturday to celebrate the once-in-a-generation occasion. But it also attracted protesters, with yellow-shirted protesters booing and shouting “not mine” all morning.
Republic, Britain’s largest anti-monarchy group, told CNN that the police – without giving any reason – had arrested the organizers of the anti-monarchy protest.
At around 7 a.m. (2 a.m. ET), police stopped six Republic organizers and told them they were detaining and searching them, Republic director Harry Stratton told CNN at the protest.
Graham Smith, CEO of Republic, was among those detained, according to him video Shared by the Alliance of European Republican Movements.
Stratton said that when the organizers asked the police why they were being held, they were told officers would “find out” after they searched the anti-monarchy protesters. After searching them, the police told the six organizers that they were arresting them and confiscating hundreds of their “Not Mine” signs.
“They didn’t say why they were arrested. They didn’t tell them or tell us where they were taking them. It’s really like something out of a police state,” Stratton said.
“I think people are quite annoyed by the reaction of the police. But the reaction of the fans to us has been very friendly,” he added.
Group posted on Twitter Saturday, commenting: “So much for the right to peaceful protest.”
Members of the environmental activist group Just Stop Oil have been arrested in the mall outside Buckingham Palace, UK news agency PA Media reported, adding that a large group of protesters were seen in handcuffs.
The Metropolitan Police confirmed that several arrests had been made in central London and defended its actions.
“Today, 52 people were arrested on charges including marital infidelity, public order offences, disturbing the peace and conspiracy to cause public nuisance. All of these people are still in detention,” the police said in a press release.
Mitt defends arrests
Chief Karen Findlay, who leads the police operation, said in the statement: “We fully understand the public concern following the arrests we made this morning.
“Protest is legitimate and can be destructive. We have monitored many protests without interference in the build-up to and during the coronation.
“Our duty is to do so in a proportionate manner in line with relevant legislation. It is also our duty to intervene when protesting becomes criminal and may cause serious disorder.
“It depends on the context. Coronation is a once-in-a-generation event and this is a key consideration in our assessment. Today a large-scale protest went ahead with the police’s knowledge and laissez-faire.”
The nonprofit Human Rights Watch said earlier Saturday that the coronation arrests were “something you would expect to see in Moscow rather than London,” according to a statement obtained by BA Media.
Republic claimed to expect between 1,500 and 2,000 people to join the group at its protest in Trafalgar Square, south of Royal Procession Road.
“Instead of a coronation we want an election. Instead of Charles we want a choice. It’s that simple,” the group wrote on Twitter on Saturday.
Growing police powers
The Metropolitan Police, the UK’s largest police force, has been scrutinized for its work strict approach towards the protests about the coronation.
“Our tolerance for any disruption, whether through protest or otherwise, will be low,” the force wrote on Twitter this week. “We will deal firmly with anyone bent on undermining this celebration.”
Ahead of the event, the Met said more than 11,500 police officers would be deployed to London on Saturday, making the coronation the largest single-day deployment in decades.
The operation – called the Golden Orb – saw officers map the route of the convoy, manage crowds, close roads, protect high-profile individuals and conduct searches with specialized teams.
There are also plans to use facial recognition technology in central London, which has drawn criticism from human rights groups.
“We all have the right to go about our lives without being watched and monitored, but everyone at the coronation is at risk of having their faces scanned by oppressive facial recognition technology,” Emmanuelle Andrews of rights group Liberty said on Twitter.
The operation comes amid growing concern about an increase in the police force to stifle dissent in Britain, after the introduction of a system A controversial piece of legislation.
In the past year, the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 has greatly expanded[ed] The set of circumstances in which the police may impose conditions on a protest. Under the new law, protesters are considered to have “intentionally or recklessly caused…[e] public nuisance” – including causing “serious inconvenience”.
Liberty said in a statement to CNN that this law “has made it more difficult for people to stand up for what they believe without facing the risk of criminalization.”
On Tuesday, a new law called the Public Order Act received royal assent from King Charles, a formality and the final hurdle before the bill becomes law.
The Home Office said in a statement that the decision “will give police powers to prevent disruptions to major sporting and cultural events taking place this summer in England and Wales”.
Specific measures were introduced into law from Wednesday.
Under the law, the Home Office said, long-term protest methods such as lockdowns – in which protesters attach themselves physically to objects such as buildings – can result in a six-month prison sentence or an “unlimited fine”.
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