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by Mick the Ram
London is readying itself for a weekend of potential clashes, with the Metropolitan Police organising what they are calling “an unprecedented security operation” ahead of a pro-Palestinian demonstration on Saturday 11 November, which is Armistice Day.
An exclusion zone has been imposed around the Cenotaph on Whitehall, where the annual Remembrance Day service will be held on Sunday, with a 24-hour police presence already in place, and which will remain until after the ceremony.
There have been demonstrations on successive Saturdays since the war in Gaza began, but with tens of thousands expected to take part in this march, there are genuine concerns for violent clashes.
The Met expects an even larger number of counter-protesters in the capital on Saturday, including members from far-right groups. With splinter groups likely to be determined to be as disruptive as possible, it seems inevitable that the police will have to use force to prevent serious disorder.
On Saturday 11th the Festival of Remembrance will take place at the Royal Albert Hall, commencing at 2pm, whilst on Sunday there will be the usual two-minute silence at 11am, and the laying of wreaths.
No official protests are scheduled to take place on Remembrance Sunday.
PM asked for march to be banned
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had asked for the march to be cancelled, stating that in his view the timing of the march is “disrespectful”. However, the Met Police Commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley said the law provided no mechanism to ban a gathering, or rally, so although they had appealed to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign which has organised the march, to call it off, they could not stop it.
The group have refused the request to postpone, stating that their route does not go past the Cenotaph, but Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor, who is leading the massive police operation, said he is concerned breakaway groups could “seek each other out”.
Special security measures introduced just for this weekend
The Met has said it will deploy 1,850 public order officers on duty on Saturday, and another 1,375 on Sunday, in order to try and keep everyone safe and maintain order. Other security measures announced include the enforcement of a separate exclusion zone across the weekend around both the Israeli and US embassies.
Additionally, there will be extra powers to stop-and-search, and if deemed necessary the right to compel people to remove masks. Plans have been put in place to prevent a threatened “convoys of cars” from other parts of the UK carrying pro-Palestinian protesters, from reaching Jewish communities.
Plus after a spate of attacks in the past week on poppy sellers at railway stations in the city, British Transport police will step up their security to ensure protection.
Remembrance events taking place in the capital
Remembrance Sunday commemorates the contribution made by British and Commonwealth service people, and their sacrifice in the two world wars and subsequent conflicts. Representatives from dozens of nations gather around the Cenotaph to pay their respects and admire the marvellous parades.
On Saturday the Royal Albert Hall will host the Festival of Remembrance, which will feature uplifting music from military bands and orchestras, as well as a fitting tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth II.
Also open throughout the weekend of remembrance is what is referred to as the Field of Remembrance, at Westminster Abbey, which is a memorial garden where visitors can plant a token in memory of a loved one, or simply come along for a period of quiet reflection.
Hopefully Remembered for the right reasons
It will be shameful and a terrible sight should a weekend of remembrance be remembered for all the wrong reasons, and individuals manage to trample on the memory of so many who gave up everything.