LONDON: London police arrested dozens of people Saturday after thousands turned out in the British capital to protest against ongoing coronavirus lockdown restrictions, with the city’s police force in the spotlight over its officer’s conduct after a series of recent incidents.
The Metropolitan Police Service said it had made 36 arrests, most for breaching months-old virus regulations that outlaw leaving home except for a limited number of reasons.
Several thousand people were estimated to have gathered for the demonstrations, which began Saturday lunchtime at Hyde Park.
After the crowd marched through central London, a group of around 100 returned to the park where police said they threw missiles at officers.
“Several were injured as a result of targeted assaults,” Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor, who led the policing operation, said in a statement.
“It is totally unacceptable and saddening that officers enforcing regulations that are there to protect us all were the victims of violent attacks.”
England’s Covid-19 lockdown measures have been in place since early January, when Britain saw a surge in infection rates, hospitalisations and deaths.
The situation has improved markedly since then, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson last month outlined a gradual easing of the restrictions, with the stringent stay-at-home order set to end later this month.
Anti-lockdown demonstrations by hundreds or even thousands have occurred regularly during the pandemic, often resulting in a small number of arrests. — AFP