by Babatunde Abdulfatah
London, Sept. 26, 2020 (Reuters/Naija247news) Protesters at a central London anti-lockdown rally scuffled with the Police on Saturday as officers tried to break up the demonstration because it had failed to follow social distancing rules.
Chanting “Freedom” and carrying banners saying “We Do Not Consent” and “COVID 1984”, thousands of people had crammed into Trafalgar Square to protest against the coronavirus pandemic restrictions.
Video footage showed officers briefly using batons to drive the protesters back.
The Police, who said some officers had been hurt, ordered the protest to disperse because demonstrators had failed to socially distance or wear masks, meaning it was no longer exempt from the national rules that limit gatherings to six people.
“We want to be clear, this protest is no longer exempt from the regulations,’’ the Metropolitan Police said on Twitter.
“We are asking those attending to disperse.
“Sadly, some officers have been injured while engaging with people.’’
Saturday’s demonstration followed a similar event last weekend when 32 people were arrested for offences, including violent disorder and assaulting an emergency worker.
Two officers suffered minor injuries at that protest.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson tightened COVID-19 restrictions this week, telling people to work from home if they can and ordering pubs and restaurants to close early after cases started to rise again.
The United Kingdom recorded 6,042 new cases of COVID-19, official figures showed on Saturday and 34 new deaths among those who tested positive for the virus within 28 days.