(London) London police said on Monday evening they “regret” that the six anti-monarchy protesters arrested on Saturday ahead of Charles III’s coronation celebrations were unable to demonstrate as they had planned and stressed that no prosecution would be forthcoming. committed against them.
Early Saturday morning, six members of the anti-monarchy group Republic, including their leader Graham Smith, were arrested in central London as they marched to Trafalgar Square to demonstrate as the King passed by. The police had also seized their placards.
They were released late Saturday, more than 16 hours after their arrest, sparking heavy criticism.
In a statement Monday evening, the London police justified themselves at length by explaining that they had arrested six people “suspected of being equipped to chain themselves”.
Under a law that came into force on Wednesday, criticized as far as the UN, British police can arrest people in possession of equipment likely to be used to chain themselves on public roads, a technique of protest and blocking regularly used by climate activists in the UK.
However, the London police added in their press release that “the investigation could not prove the intention to use [the seized objects] to chain themselves and disrupt the demonstration. »
“We regret that the six people arrested were unable to join the group of protesters in Trafalgar Square and elsewhere on the route of the procession,” Scoland Yard concluded, stressing that no prosecution would be instituted.
The arrest of Graham Smith and five other Republic members on Saturday was heavily criticized by the hundreds of anti-monarchy protesters who had gathered to boo the carriage carrying Charles III to Westminster Abbey.
“It’s something you expect to see in Moscow, not in London,” the human rights organization Human Rights Watch also reacted.
Graham Smith tweeted that three police officers came to his home on Monday evening and issued an apology. “The excuse is not accepted,” he said.
Earlier in the day, he had criticized the new Public Order Act, which he said was introduced “to give them the power to arrest us on any frivolous pretext”.
“We no longer have the right to demonstrate in this country, we only have the freedom to demonstrate with the permission of the police and politicians,” he told the BBC.
In total, London police made 64 arrests on the day of the King’s coronation, including environmental activists.