At least 16 people were arrested and nine police officers sustained injuries after violence erupted at an anti-lockdown protest in London’s Trafalgar Square.
Thousand of people gathered in Traflagar Square on Saturday carrying a variety of signs, flags and placards to take participate in the “we do not consent” protest, the Metro newspaper reported.
Those in attendance were not wearing or were taking social distancing measures.
While some protesters accused the government of “tyranny” for implementing wide ranging restrictions in an effort to curb the virus spread, while others compared a potential Covid-19 vaccine to “cyanide”.
Some even held placards with a quote by Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels, that said: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, eventually people will believe it.”
The protest soon turned violent after the participants clashes with police officers.
Members of the crowd threw bottles at the police and chanted “pick your side”, while officers used batons against them.
According to the Metropolitan Police, the arrests were made over a variety of offences including breaching coronavirus regulations, assaulting a police officer, public order offences and violent disorder.
Branding the protest as “not acceptable”, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, stressed that large gatherings, including protests, were still banned to stop the spread of Covid-19.
“The reckless and violent behaviour of some protestors has left hard-working police officers injured and put the safety of our city, which is at a critical moment in the fight against this virus, at risk,” the Metro newspaper quoted the Mayor as saying in a statement later in the day.
“This is totally unacceptable. We cannot let the sacrifices Londoners have made be undermined by the selfish behaviour of a small number.”
Saturday’s protest comes after a similar anti-lockdown rally was held in Trafalgar Square last week which led to the arrest of at least 32 people.