The head of the main British anti-monarchy movement has been arrested this Saturday along with several volunteers at the beginning of a protest in Trafalgar Square in London against the imminent coronation of Carlos III.
The executive director of Republic, Graham Smith, and five other volunteers went to the police at around 06:30 during the preparations for the protest called, among others, by the Alliance of Republican European Movements, whose sympathizers have begun to arrive at the square with flags and yellow t-shirts to protest against the celebration and the british monarchy.
"They were picking up the banners and taking them away when the police stopped them," Republic director Harry Stratton told The Guardian.
Another activist, Luke Whiting, explained to the Press Association agency that Graham and the activists would have been identified carrying megaphones in what would be a violation of recent anti-protest laws enacted last year by the British authorities, which prohibit the use of amplifiers.
"It is not clear exactly if the police are using these new powers and if they are abusing them to prevent protests from taking place," Whiting said, while Stratton said he was surprised by the arrests.
"We have asked why they have been arrested but they have not given us an answer. We had held several meetings with the Police in this regard and in principle all the noise we made fell within what was contemplated," added the director of Republic about the arrests of his companions.
British police had already advanced on their Twitter account that they would exhibit "low tolerance" for anyone who tried to "undermine" the events of the day.
Up to 2,000 protesters, including representatives of the Swedish, Dutch and Norwegian republican movements, are expected to gather below Nelson's Column this afternoon to protest against the coronation of the new British monarch. The concentration, for the moment, has already begun with the presence of hundreds of people in yellow T-shirts shouting "He is not my king" and with banners with the slogan "Abolish the monarchy."
For their part, members of the environmental organization Just Stop Oil have assured the Press Association agency that approximately 13 protesters were arrested before the coronation.
A spokeswoman for the group has indicated that five protesters were also arrested in Downing Street and another in Piccadilly.
The NGO Human Rights Watch described the arrests as "incredibly alarming" before adding that "this is something one would expect to see in Moscow, not London."
Just Stop Oil protester Ben Larsen, 25, said he was there to watch the coronation and protest peacefully. Smiling at the cops, he snapped, "You searched me and you didn't find shit." A police officer replied: "You need to educate yourself on what a peaceful protest is."
LONDON POLICE CONFIRM AT LEAST SEVEN ARRESTS
For its part, the London Metropolitan Police has confirmed that at least seven people have been arrested for acts against public order during the hours prior to the start of the ceremony, although without confirming whether Smith and his companions are among them.
"Early this morning, we have arrested four people in the St Martin's Lane area on suspicion of conspiracy to cause public disorder. We have seized 'jamming devices,'" the Police have announced on their Twitter account.
These "devices" are chains with padlocks, for example, used by protesters to hook onto lampposts or fences and thus prevent officers from taking them to the police station.
Subsequently, the Police have reported three more arrests at Wellington Arch "on suspicion of possession of items to cause criminal damage," he added, without elaborating.