Protesters are chanting pro-Palestinian slogans outside Keir Starmer’s office as more than 100 demos have begun across UK – with the police under orders to step in if anyone climbs on war memorials.
Hundreds gathered outside the office in Camden, north London as a fresh wave of protests began across the country in a national day of action staged by hundreds of thousands of people opposed to Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza, with over 100 rallies planned.
It comes a day after senior party figures called for calm as the police opened an investigation into vandalism at shadow Welsh secretary Jo Stevens’ office in Cardiff – which was covered with red paint and posters accusing her of having ‘blood’ on her hands.
Crowds blocked the road and chanted ‘Keir Starmer’s a wasteman’ and ‘What do we want? A ceasefire. When do we want it? Now’.
Others held up signs saying ‘Stop the war on Gaza’ as they massed outside the Labour leader’s office.
Hundreds gathered outside the office in Camden, north London as a fresh wave of protests began across the country in a national day of action
Crowds blocked the road and chanted ‘Keir Starmer’s a wasteman’ and ‘What do we want? A ceasefire. When do we want it? Now’
Others held up signs saying ‘Stop the war on Gaza’ as they massed outside the Labour leader’s office
The packed road was filled with Palestinian flags, with further placards reading: ‘save Gaza’s kids’ and: ‘no justice, no peace’
Other placards accused the Labour leader of enabling genocide – while another included the controversial phrase: ‘from the river to the sea’
Some signs accused Starmer of not upholding Labour values and still more definitively called for a ceasefire
19 shadow ministers defied the leadership to speak in favour of a ceasefire this week in a SNP amendment to the King’s Speech
Labour was left in chaos this week as MPs faced pressure from members and pro-Palestinian activists to back a vote for a ceasefire in Gaza
The packed road was filled with Palestinian flags, with further placards reading: ‘save Gaza’s kids’ and: ‘no justice, no peace.’
Labour was left in chaos this week as MPs faced pressure from members and pro-Palestinian activists to back a vote for a ceasefire in Gaza, especially after 19 shadow ministers defied the leadership to speak in favour of a ceasefire.
In the end, ten frontbenchers and 46 other Labour MPs sided with the SNP amendment to the King’s Speech which demanded an ‘immediate ceasefire’ in the besieged territory.
Protesters held signs saying ‘Who the f*** doesn’t vote for a ceasefire?’ and ‘Starmer shame on you’ as they walked through Camden.
Protesters also gathered outside the office of Harrow East Conservative MP Bob Blackman, who voted against a motion calling for a ceasefire in Gaza earlier this week. Other MPs’ offices were targeted in recent days.
But amid scenes earlier this week of police simply standing by as pro-Palestinian activists climbed the Royal Artillery Memorial in Hyde Park, Met Commander Karen Findlay says officers have been told to take stronger action.
As well as making ‘expectations clear’ to police on the ground to take decisive action, she has told protesters who climb memorials that they could be liable for criminal damage charges.
Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters have began marching from outside Chalk Farm station in north London as part of the day of national action.
Police patrol around the Cenotaph on Whitehall on Saturday ahead of anticipated pro-Palestine protests across the country
Footage of the incident sparked anger at the police response – with officers simply standing by and watching as one of them politely asked the men to come down
Protesters have gathered in Harrow outside the office of Harrow East MP Bob Blackman, who voted against a parliamentary motion calling for a ceasefire in Gaza
Thousands protest outside of Parliament to demand that there is a vote for a ceasefire. Pictured at Parliament Square on November 15, 2023
Dolls symbolising children that died during the conflict as healthcare workers and agencies in the UK held a vigil outside Downing Street on Friday
Protesters chanted ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’ – criticised in some circles for allegedly alluding to the destruction of Israel – and ‘Free, free Palestine’ as they marched towards Camden Town station.
Footage of the Hyde Park incident on Wednesday sparked anger amid the police response – with officers simply standing by and watching as one of them politely asked a man to come down, making no moves to arrest him.
Commander Findlay said: ‘We have made our expectations clear to officers who will be on duty this weekend.
‘At a minimum they are to intervene decisively when they see behaviour which is obviously disrespectful, using their skills in dealing with the public as they do every day.
‘They will be looking to take positive action, including arrests, as soon as disrespectful behaviour becomes disorderly behaviour of the sort covered by a number of public order offences.
‘They will also intervene where necessary to prevent a breach of the peace.
‘Protesters intent on climbing over memorials and other monuments should also keep in mind that they weren’t designed for this purpose, making them prone to damage which will likely constitute a criminal offence.
‘There is clear legislation in place to deal with damage of any sort, even if it is minimal or was caused recklessly and not intentionally.’
However, the Met commander admitted that policing people who climb war memorials would be a ‘challenge’ for officers – because there is no explicit law that makes the action unlawful.
She has called on pro-Palestinian marchers to show respect and to adhere to the law, warning that ‘hate crime will not be tolerated’. Met resources will be heavily deployed in areas with large Jewish and Muslim communities.
Commander Findlay added: ‘Regrettably, while the majority of protesters coming out in recent weeks have been peaceful, we have continued to see people taking part in offensive chanting or intentionally carrying placards that cross the line from political statements into racially or religiously aggravated offences.
‘By all means come out and protest to make your voice heard as is your right, but if your aim is to offend, to incite hatred, or to cause fear and intimidation then you should stay away.’
Rather than a huge march in London , as has been seen in recent weeks, dozens of events are due to take place in different parts of the UK today (picture of a protest on Wednesday)
British Transport Police have banned protests on Saturday at many of London’s main rail stations
A vigil was held at Downing Street tonight to mourn the civilians and healthcare workers killed in Israel’s bombing of Gaza
Dolls were laid in front of the Prime Minister’s residence to highlight the number of children and babies killed in the bloody war
Rather than a huge march in London, as has been seen in recent weeks with thousands of protesters converging on the capital, the Day of Action for Palestine will see more than 100 events take place in different parts of the UK on Saturday.
There are ten events taking place in boroughs across the capital alone, and more than 100,000 people are expected at a protest in Glasgow.
Protests BANNED at London train stations
The British Transport Police have issued Section 14a orders prohibiting protests from 10am to 11pm Saturday at the following London stations:
- Charing Cross
- King’s Cross
- London Bridge
- Liverpool Street
- St Pancras
Meanwhile, the British Transport Police (BTP) has banned protests on Saturday at many of London’s main rail stations, anticipating that demonstrations at the country’s busiest transport hubs could cause severe disruption.
Ahead of the protests, a vigil was held at Downing Street on Friday to mourn the civilians and healthcare workers killed in Israel’s relentless bombing campaign on the Gaza Strip over recent weeks.
Israel began strikes on the enclave after the October 7 atrocities by Palestinian terror group Hamas, which saw 1,200 killed.
The Palestinian death toll has surpassed 12,000, including 5,000 children, the Hamas-run Health Ministry said on Friday.
Dolls were laid in front of the Prime Minister’s residence to highlight the number of children and babies killed in the bloody war, while protesters also held aloft placards with the names of medics who have lost their lives while trying to save others.
Furious protesters have been calling for a ceasefire for weeks, and now protests will grip the country as part of a coordinated day of action which will involve trade unionists.
Ben Jamal, director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said the rallies were organised to show that ‘ordinary people’ support a ceasefire.
‘This Saturday, ordinary people across the UK will come out again to show the vast majority of them support a ceasefire,’ he said.
‘They will show their solidarity with Palestinians who are suffering unimaginable harm.’
A spokeswoman for organisers Stop The War Coalition said on Friday: ‘Tomorrow is the day of action that we’ve called for.’
‘Groups around the country are organising local rallies and marches to basically build for the national demonstration that has been called for next Saturday,’ she said.
The spokeswoman added that most of the rallies will have speakers, and some will still march.
Hundreds of children joined a protest march through Bethnal Green yesterday
Youngsters and adults carrying Palestinian flags and placards calling for Israel to ‘stop the war in Gaza ‘ clogged up the streets in Bethnal Green
The gathering in Barking comes amid warnings for children to stay in school
‘I think most of them have speakers from various organisations that are involved in the main marches, and then trade unionists,’ she said.
This week, Labour saw a string of frontbench resignations after ten MPs defied Sir Keir Starmer and voted for an end to fighting.
MPs who did not rebel against the party leader have seen demonstrations in their constituencies, with marchers expected in Emily Thornberry’s seat of Highbury and Islington today.
Last Saturday also saw shocking scenes of violence as far-right football hooligans claiming to be ‘protecting the Cenotaph’ clashed with police.
Today, the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) voiced fears that ‘genocidal hate chanting and antisemitic rhetoric’ would be heard on Britain’s streets.
The Met said 300,000 people joined a pro-Palestinian march through London on Armistice Day, which saw some displaying antisemitic slogans and sickening support for Hamas.
Meanwhile, the CAA filmed several protesters comparing Israel to Nazi Germany, with one branding Benjamin Netanyahu ‘worse than Hitler’.
The Metropolitan Police said that a ‘significant’ policing operation is planned for the capital this weekend as it plans to crackdown on any hateful behaviour.
Commander Karen Findlay, who is leading the Met’s operation in London, said: ‘Whilst there is no single large central protest event on Saturday, our policing priorities remain the same across the local events that are due to take place.
‘We are here to ensure that people can exercise their right to protest but to make sure that is done lawfully, and that unreasonable disruption to the lives of other Londoners is kept to a minimum.
‘Our officers will intervene swiftly where they see offences taking place. In particular, I want to reiterate that there is no place for hate in London. Hate crime will not be tolerated.
Police are ‘actively seeking’ two men pictured wearing Hamas-style headbands at last Saturday’s march in London
A demonstrator last Saturday with a sign showing a Star of David intertwined with a Nazi swastika (left) and another depicting Rishi Sunak and Suella Braverman as ‘coconuts’
‘Regrettably, while the majority of protesters coming out in recent weeks have been peaceful, we have continued to see people taking part in offensive chanting or intentionally carrying placards that cross the line from political statements into racially or religiously aggravated offences.’
The British Transport Police have issued Section 14a orders prohibiting protests on Saturday at many of London’s main rail stations.
The orders will be in place between 10am and 11pm at Waterloo, Charing Cross, King’s Cross, London Bridge, Euston, Liverpool Street, Marylebone, Paddington, Victoria and St Pancras.
Assistant Chief Constable Sean O’Callaghan said: ‘We have been made aware of several planned demonstrations due to take place on Saturday November 18 across railway stations in London.
‘We fully respect the rights of people to protest lawfully but where we believe this could cause serious disruption to the railway services, we must act.’
On Friday, schoolchildren walked out of their classes as part of a coordinated ‘school strike for Palestine’.
In Bristol, youngsters handed in a petition calling for a ceasefire, while similar events took place in other cities across the UK.
It came after hundreds of pupils at a Wimbledon girls’ school took part in a banned march in support of Palestine which left Jewish students feeling ‘isolated and threatened’ on Wednesday.
Footage posted on TikTok shows how streams of uniformed girls aged 11-16 defied a ban on any political event within the school campus this week – leaving some girls, including some of Jewish backgrounds, feeling unsafe.
And on Thursday, a crowd of pro-Palestinian protesters surrounded the Labour constituency office of MP Rushanara Ali after she abstained from Wednesday’s Gaza ceasefire vote in Parliament, following an earlier protest their by schoolchildren in the day.
The Department of Education has responded by stressing that children should be in school and not ‘missing out on their education’.