Police brace for pro-Palestine 'Day of Action' as tens of thousands prepare to ... trends now
The Metropolitan Police will use facial recognition and social media 'analytics' as part of a 'sharper' approach to policing a pro-Palestine 'Day of Action' tomorrow.
More than 40 marches involving tens of thousands of people will take place in cities across the UK - raising fears of a repeat of the vile antisemitic incidents that have marred previous protests.
Commander Karen Findlay, who will oversee policing in London this weekend, said the pro-Palestine rallies come on top of a campaign of 'action' by Just Stop Oil as well as sporting fixtures and dozens of other events scheduled for Bonfire Night.
Speaking in an online media briefing, Commander Findlay said: 'We are going to be using a sharper focus to inform sharper interventions to make arrests in big crowds.
'We have included faster-time analysis capability of social media and we are going to be employing retrospective facial recognition, so I want to make it clear that we will be doing everything within our power this weekend to make sure there is that fast-time, really robust response to emerging incidents that cause really grave concern to communities.'
She said this involved identifying individuals spreading offensive or harmful content on social media platforms first-time at a much quicker pace, and using the Met's database of wanted individuals.
It comes as Rishi Sunak hit out at plans to hold pro-Palestine protests in London on Armistice Day as 'provocative and disrespectful'. He said there was a 'clear and present risk that the Cenotaph and other war memorials could be desecrated'.
Marches have been held in London every weekend since the Hamas terror attacks of October 7. Pictured are protesters on Westminster Bridge last Saturday
It comes as Rishi Sunak hit out at plans to hold pro-Palestine protests in London on Armistice Day as 'provocative and disrespectful'
Protesters clash with police during a demonstration on Whitehall on October 28. Saturday has been the main day for pro-Palestine marches in London and across the UK
Protesters calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza are planning to take to the streets of London on Armistice Day on Saturday November 11.
There are fears marchers could disrupt the two-minute silence commemorating the war dead as well as the daytime and evening Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall. The latter is usually attended by members of the Royal Family.
Tom Tugendhat, the security minister and a veteran who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, today called the protests 'inappropriate' and said he had written to the Mayor of London to ask him to consider the 'options available'.
It comes amid broader concerns about the antisemitic slogans being used at pro-Palestine protests, with Israeli ambassador Tzipi Hotovely saying 'jihad ideology' had left London feeling less safe for Jews than wartime Israel.
Antisemitism campaigners warned today that central London has become a 'no go area' for Jews every Saturday - when weekly pro-Palestine demonstrations are typically held.
The Met is currently investigating a female protester who was pictured posing with a banner reading 'please keep the world clean' next to an image of a stick man throwing an Israeli flag bearing the Star of David into a bin.
Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said his officers are currently investigating more than 200 examples of online hate prompted by the war in the Middle East. Meanwhile, volunteers who have been putting up posters of Israeli kidnap victims in London revealed half are being ripped down within 48 hours.
The Met has vowed to use 'all its powers' to stop protesters disrupting Armistice Day commemorations
Israeli ambassador Tzipi Hotovely said the Jewish community felt fear due to 'jihad ideology' witnessed in the capital city
Today, the Met said officers will be deployed across the capital over remembrance weekend as part of a 'significant policing and security operation'.
It said protest groups have not indicated plans to march on Remembrance Sunday on November 12, but a significant demonstration is expected on the Saturday.
Organisers of the demo have pledged to avoid the Whitehall area where the Cenotaph war memorial - the focus of national remembrance events - is located.
Tom Tugendhat told BBC Breakfast this morning: 'Let's be clear, the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign has said that they want to march on Remembrance Sunday, and that is a matter of great concern to me.'
Mr Tugendhat added: 'It is a moment where we remember those we lost, and I think for the whole country the Cenotaph is sacred ground and the idea that on a day like Remembrance Day you would have a protest going past it, I don't think that is acceptable.
'That is why I have written to the Mayor of London, and to Westminster Council, and to the Metropolitan Police asking them to look very carefully at the powers that they have and to consider what options they have available, because personally I don't think this is an appropriate moment for a protest.'
While the police will be responsible for on-the-day monitoring of the demonstration, the Home Secretary could grant them extra powers to prevent it from interrupting remembrance ceremonies.
The Public Order Act 1986 allows Suella Braverman to ban protests from certain areas if the Met believes there is a disorder risk.
Londoners have taken to social media to describe a 'tense' atmosphere in the capital as the conflict in the Middle East reverberates in the UK.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: 'Every Saturday, central London is becoming a hostile, no-go zone for Jews. It is astounding at how quickly this has become the new ''norm''.
'We are hearing from Londoners, who have lived in the capital their entire lives, that they are considering leaving their lives here in Britain due to fears for their own safety.
'Londoners cannot and will not tolerate a situation in which every weekend it becomes common to see an exhibition of extremism on our streets become extremism.
'The Met is creating the conditions in which not only London's Jews but all Londoners could be placed in serious danger. Extremists rarely limit themselves to extreme language. We need action by the authorities responsible for keeping Britain safe.'
There was outrage last month after a stage was set up next to the Cenotaph for speakers at a pro-Palestine event on October 14.
Today, the Met vowed to stop any protesters disrupting commemorations over remembrance weekend.
'This is a weekend with huge national significance,' the force said.
'We will use all the powers available to us to ensure anyone intent on disrupting it will not succeed.'
It added: 'We're absolutely committed to ensuring the safety and security of anyone attending commemorative events.'
The high-profile Remembrance Sunday outdoor service at the Cenotaph is attended by royals, senior politicians and veterans each year, and is a poignant tribute to those who lost their lives in conflict.
Armistice Day on November 11 is the anniversary of the end of