Police intervened as demonstrators wearing Guy Fawkes masks gathered in central London for the annual Million Mask March against capitalism in violation of the nationwide coronavirus lockdown, which kicked in on Thursday.
Several hundred people tried to assemble in Trafalgar Square for the demonstration, staged annually by the Anonymous hacktivist group since 2013, but were met by a large police cordon.
LIVE: Protesters rally in London against #lockdown as England enters its first night of new #restrictions. https://t.co/MaDsN6Rd3t
Police told the protesters to disperse as gatherings are currently forbidden as part of the national lockdown restrictions aimed at curbing the rapid spread of the coronavirus across England.
Massive million mask march tonight in London to protest the illegal lockdown. pic.twitter.com/UMLeUR46Ci
The confrontation between protesters and police led to scuffles, and videos from the scene showed at least several demonstrators being detained.
“We remain in a national health crisis and new heightened restrictions have been brought in to limit the spread of coronavirus. This action is being taken to keep everyone safe,” Met Police said in a statement.
After being pushed back from Trafalgar Square, the group continued to rally at nearby Oxford Street.
Police snatch more #millionmaskmarch protesters pic.twitter.com/J9Vb6VcnzL
The Million Mask March takes place on November 5 when Guy Fawkes Night is celebrated in the UK. The rally is aimed at decrying global corporations, government corruption, police brutality and systemic racism, but this year it was also joined by those protesting the Covid-19 lockdown.
Guy Fawkes was a member of a group of provincial English Catholics behind a failed attempt to blow up the House of Lords in 1605, known as the Gunpowder Plot. The mask depicting the historic figure, worn by many of the demonstrators, became a symbol of riot and resistance after its use in graphic novels and the film ‘V for Vendetta’.
The national lockdown, which is to be in place in England until December 2, only permits residents to leave their homes for essential reasons such as work, education, shopping or getting medical assistance. Gatherings of more than two people from different households both outdoors and indoors have been banned, with few exceptions.
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