British police said they arrested 52 demonstrators on Saturday on the sidelines of the coronation of Charles III in London and defended these highly criticized arrests by explaining that they had been informed of plans to disrupt the historic event. Law enforcement arrested dozens of environmentalists who were planning actions on the route of the royal procession but also at least six anti-monarchy activists including Republic movement leader Graham Smith, who staged a protest in Trafalgar Square .
Persons in police custody for disturbing public order
Stating that they had arrested 52 people still in police custody for disturbing public order late Saturday afternoon, the London Metropolitan Police said they had “received information indicating that the demonstrators wanted to disrupt the coronation procession”. “This included information indicating individuals wanted to attempt to vandalize monuments with paint, break through barriers and disrupt official travel,” Scotland Yard said.
This seems to refer to the type of actions of the environmental movement Just Stop Oil whose activists have been arrested but does not explicitly explain the arrest of anti-monarchists whose signs “Not my King” (“not my king”) were seizures. This did not prevent hundreds of Republican sympathizers from demonstrating as the royal procession passed, a limited but unimaginable presence under Elizabeth II.
“We came to defend the basic principle that the British head of state should be elected by the people on the basis of their merit and not on the basis of an inheritance imposed on the people without their consent”, explains Peter, fervent defender of the republican idea. And the protester assures him at the microphone of Europe 1: “We will continue to campaign to give the people the right to choose their head of state.”
More than 11,000 agents deployed
The action of the police who had deployed more than 11,000 agents on Saturday was criticized by human rights organizations. It comes days after the accelerated enactment of a controversial new law strengthening the powers of the police to counter protests.
“We have a duty to intervene when demonstrations become criminal and risk causing serious disruption,” said Karen Findlay, who coordinated the police operation, quoted in the police press release. “It depends on the context. The coronation is a once-in-a-generation event and it’s a key part of our assessment,” she added.