Posted on July 17, 2018

Tommy Robinson Protest: 12 Arrests Amid Clashes as Thousands of Activists Descend on Whitehall

Tom Powell and Patrick Grafton-Green, Evening Standard, July 15, 2018

Twelve people were arrested as thousands of protesters descended on Whitehall for a rally in support of jailed far-right activist Tommy Robinson and US president Donald Trump.

Violent clashes broke out as police officers attempted to keep the demonstration under control on Saturday afternoon.

Police said 11 men and one woman were arrested for a range of offences including violent disorder and assault.

Union boss Steve Hedley, senior assistant general secretary of the RMT, was also reportedly assaulted by a mob of activists at a pub after attending a counter-protest.

During the march, many people waved flags and banners in support of the former EDL leader, while regular chants of “Free Tommy Robinson” could be heard.

The rally joined forces with a small procession of Trump supporters who initially gathered outside the US Embassy in Nine Elms, Battersea.

Some waved “Britain Loves Trump” placards, wore Mr Trump’s red Make America Great Again caps and cheered at mentions of the president.

Police had issued restrictions on both demonstrations amid fears violence could break out when they united.

Leaflets were distributed to activists explaining that anyone who contravened the timings and location set out for the protests could face arrest and prosecution.

Reports suggested between 2,000 and 3,000 Tommy Robinson protesters turned up at Whitehall for the demonstration, with a heavy police presence on hand.

The march was kept at a distance from the counter-protest in Parliament Square, the day after an estimated 250,000 rallied through London in opposition to the US president.

The Met Police said Trump supporters were due to leave the US Embassy and meet Robinson fans on the way to Whitehall, but ordered both must depart Temple Place and follow a strict route after “serious violence” at a march last month resulted in five officers being injured.

However pictures on social media showed a small group breached the order on Saturday by starting at the US Embassy. Officers at the scene said cordons were bolstered after the breaches.

Later speakers took to a stage to proclaim their support for Robinson and Donald Trump, including Baron Pearson, a member of the House of Lords.

A police spokeswoman confirmed there had been twelve arrests.

One woman was arrested on suspicion of violent disorder, two men were arrested on suspicion of public order offences, one man was arrested on suspicion of fireworks offences and eight men were arrested on suspicion of assault at Storey’s Gate, Westminster.

They have all been taken to a Central London police station, the spokeswoman added.

Pictures from the scene showed officers restraining activists, while one man could be seen angrily waving a large stick.

There were shouts of “free Tommy Robinson” as crowds gathered around Westminster station from 2pm onwards.

The former leader of the EDL, 35, was jailed for 13 months for contempt of court after filming people involved in a criminal trial and broadcasting the footage on social media.