Remembrance weekend: Met Police will form a 'ring of steel' around the Cenotaph

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The Met Police says an exclusion zone will be imposed covering the cenotaph and around Whitehall.

The Met Police has set up an exclusion zone around the Cenotaph and Whitehall ahead of a massive pro-Palestinian march in central London this weekend.

This is part of a the force's "significant" operation across remembrance weekend.

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With protesters and counter-demonstrators expected to travel to London this weekend from across the country, almost 2,000 officers from the Met and other UK forces will be on duty across central London.

On Saturday a total of 1,850 officers will be deployed and on Sunday 1,375 to cover both Armistice and remembrance events.

The Met Police will form a 'ring of steel' around the Cenotaph this weekendThe Met Police will form a 'ring of steel' around the Cenotaph this weekend
The Met Police will form a 'ring of steel' around the Cenotaph this weekend | Met Police

The operation includes setting up an exclusion zone around the Cenotaph in order "to protect national remembrance events and locations". Marchers from the Pro-Palestine march will be banned from these areas, Scotland Yard said.

"Anyone believed to be part of, or associated with, the pro-Palestinian demonstration trying to assemble in this area can be arrested," the Met Police said in a statement. The Israeli and US embassies will also be off limits and protected by officers.

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Met specialist public order teams have been assessing the risk of disorder and have drafted plans to keep rival groups apart.  

March for Palestine routeMarch for Palestine route
March for Palestine route | Credit: NW

Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley made the decision earlier this week to allow protests to go ahead this weekend despite concerns from the prime minister and the home secretary.

Sir Mark said that he does not have grounds to ban the Pro-Palestine march based on the intelligence he has received.

Rishi Sunak said he would hold Sir Mark accountable for allowing the protests to go ahead, while Suella Braverman is currently under fire for writing a controversial opinion piece criticising the police.

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The pro-Palestine protest is organised for Saturday, and is to go from Hyde Park to the US Embassy. Attendees are asked to gather from noon, with organisers saying it is expected to begin around 12.45pm.

Police have asked anyone attending the march to stick to the pre-agreed route which takes the march far away from Whitehall.

Scotland Yard says a dispersal zone will be in place covering key central London locations including Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus, with anyone refusing to disperse being arrested.

A Section 60 and 60AA power will also be in place covering a significant area of Westminster and parts of Wandsworth and Lambeth between 10am on Saturday and 1am on Sunday.

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The Met Police face further challenges as far-right activists have pledged to head to central London to protect the cenotaph from Pro Palestine marchers.

One group, named "Football Lads Against Extremism", claims veterans have reached out and asked for their support "due to the threat from the far left and pro-Palestine supporters to disrupt the Remembrance Day parade".

They are calling on "all football lads up and down the country to join us in standing shoulder to shoulder with our veterans that fought for our freedom".

English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson has also rallied his supporters to join him on Saturday.

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Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, wrote on X on Thursday shortly after he was reinstated to the social media platform: "Saturday 11/11/11 London, your country needs you."

Jonathan Hall KC, the independent reviewer of terror legislation, warned that there were concerns of "an extreme Right-wing terrorist backlash" if Saturday's demonstration against the conflict in the Middle East goes ahead.