Nearly 200 suspected English Defence League supporters arrested near the Cenotaph AFTER Remembrance service
So why were they rounded up? -- Just for being there? There is no claim that they disrupted anything. Being arrested for what they MIGHT do is a very slippery slope
More than 170 far-right protesters were arrested near the Cenotaph yesterday in further evidence of a tough line on disruptive demonstrations.
Police surrounded a pub packed with English Defence League supporters two hours after wreaths were laid at the nearby Whitehall monument. Scores of young men were arrested on suspicion of breaching the peace.
Senior officers were determined to ‘preserve the dignity’ of memorial events and had warned trouble would be ‘dealt with robustly’. They said anyone seen insulting the memory of the war dead would be seen as a threat to public order and detained.
Ministers have already signalled their desire to protect the dignity of memorial events by outlawing Muslims Against Crusades. The Islamic fundamentalist group disrupted the two-minute silence last year by burning poppies, chanting inflammatory slogans and clashing with the EDL.
But there was no sign of its leader Anjem Choudary after counter-terrorism police raided his home and an Islamic centre overnight. The Armistice Day police operation came just two days after the Met refused to allow a camp get a foothold in Trafalgar Square during a student march. No-nonsense Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe is keen to avoid being caught out by street protests or bogged down in stand-offs such as the St Paul’s camp.
Hundreds of officers surrounded the Red Lion pub, which is opposite Downing Street, as tensions rose yesterday afternoon. Police had corralled EDL supporters into the pub at around 11am after fears they would target the camp outside St Paul’s.
But trouble soon flared inside as foreign staff were abused. Police forced the EDL supporters outside where they were ‘kettled’ against the building and many arrested.
One EDL supporter claimed on an internet message board that the group was armed with guns and threatened to take Britain ‘back into our own hands’. The official EDL website had ordered members to conduct themselves ‘respectfully and responsibly’.
The Met made its position clear with a series of messages on Twitter. One said: ‘Individuals seeking to disrupt the two-minute silence will be dealt with robustly. If the memory of dead soldiers is insulted where people have gathered to honour those soldiers there is clearly a threat to public order.'