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Demonstrators Told To 'Head Home' Before Police Begin Enforcement On Westminster Bridge

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Demonstrators Told To 'Head Home' Before Police Begin Enforcement On Westminster Bridge

Demonstrators have been advised to 'head home' by London's Metropolitan Police, after a protest against gender-based violence and new legislation has seen crowds gather on Westminster Bridge.

The force issued a statement via Twitter telling campaigners to leave the area, after a bus was pictured struggling to get through crowds of protestors.

It marks the third day of protests in the capital, following clashes between police and mourners at a candle-lit vigil for Sarah Everard at London's Clapham Common on Saturday evening (13 March).

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Protest group Reclaim These Streets had initially planned for a vigil to take place, but were told by police the event would be unsafe in light of current coronavirus restrictions.

Nevertheless, a large number of people gathered at Clapham Common to mourn Everard's passing.

In footage from the gathering, crowds could be heard chanting 'shame on you' as police tried to disperse attendees.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA
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Police were accused of being heavy-handed in their attempts to break up the event.

Last night (14 March), hundreds of angry protestors marched from New Scotland Yard to Parliament Square, in response to the police's behaviour.

It follows Home Secretary Priti Patel announcing a new proposed bill - Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill - which was debated by MPs in the House of Commons and would give police more powers in controlling protests and large scale events.

She said: "The current legislation police use to manage protests, the Public Order Act 1986, was enacted over 30 years ago. In recent years we've seen significant change in protest tactics, with protestors exploiting gaps in the law which have led to disproportionate amounts of disruption.

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Credit: PA
Credit: PA

"Last year we saw XR (Extinction Rebellion) block the passage of an ambulance on emergency calls, gluing themselves to trains during rush hour, blocking airport runways, preventing hundreds of hard-working people from going to work."

Videos and images emerged following Saturday night's event which showed police manhandling several protestors, with one, Patsy Stevenson, being thrown to the floor and handcuffed.

Speaking to Susanna Reid and Ben Shephard on Good Morning Britain today, Stevenson said: "I was terrified. I have never been so scared honestly.

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Credit: ITV
Credit: ITV

"I think what was scary as well was as soon as I was pinned to the ground, I looked up and there were cameras everywhere. I was like, 'Oh my God, this is big.'

"I didn't realise they had even pinned me to the ground for a second. It just like happened so fast and then I was on the ground. I was like, I am on the ground, I am very small. I wasn't resisting or anything."

Met Police commissioner Cressida Dick has since been urged to resign by various MPs, although PM Boris Johnson and Priti Patel maintain they have confidence in her.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: UK News

Amelia Ward
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