Anti-vaccination protesters storm Westfield shopping centre and clash with police

·4-min read
Anti-vaccination protesters storm Westfield shopping centre and clash with police
<p>Police clash with protesters at Westfield</p> (Twitter)

Police clash with protesters at Westfield

(Twitter)

Hundreds of anti-vaccination protesters stormed Westfield in Shepherds Bush on Saturday evening.

Pictures and videos from the shopping centre show a huge group of people clashing with police as they attempted to enter the building.

Once inside, protesters lit red flares as terrified staff locked themselves inside shops and customers fled.

Officers soon gained control of the situation and moved the demonstrators back outside.

At about 7pm, the Met tweeted: “The situation is now calm at Westfield, W12. Officers remain on scene, and the crowd is dispersing.”

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The group made their way from central London to Shepherds Bush in the early evening.

At around 6.30pm, the Met said: “The 3rd demo is now at Westfield and is causing significant disruption to the local community and businesses, police are at the location.

“The MPS strongly urge those who are taking part in this demo to go home. Failure to do so may result in enforcement action being taken.”

The demonstrators had earlier in the day gathered in Parliament Square to protest against Covid restrictions and the vaccine rollout.

Many had travelled from outside the capital.

Some claimed the pandemic is a hoax while others carried placards reading “My body, my choice”, and protested against the idea of vaccine passports.

Several people set off smoke bombs and one launched a firework.

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One man, who did not give his name, said he had come “because I want to be free and I want you to be free and the Government are lying to us”.

Another said she had attended because the press “are lying to us”.

By around 1.20pm, the crowd had started to disperse and head up Whitehall.

After the crowd dispersed from Parliament Square, it headed up Whitehall past Leicester Square and towards Hyde Park.

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Among the crowd was television presenter and nutritionist Gillian McKeith.

She wrote online: “Show up today. Do not complain about freedoms being taken away if you are not showing up. Cancel anything else in the way today. You have to be there......”

Hundreds of Kill The Bill demonstrators also gathered in London's Russell Square to protest against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

Proposals in the new bill include putting start and finish times on protests and noise limits. Under the new rules those who damage memorials could also face prison sentences of up to ten years.

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The bill could also expand stop-and-search powers and includes an offence of "intentionally or recklessly causing public nuisance."

It is designed to stop people occupying public spaces and doing things such as hanging off bridges or attaching themselves to monuments.

The Met issued an open letter to those protesting on Saturday.

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The police force “urged people to comply with the restrictions that apply to large gatherings.”

It comes after a large-scale anti-lockdown protest in London last month which saw two police officers taken to hospital.

Last week, seven protesters were arrested at a pro-Palestine demonstration in London.

People take part in an anti-vaccine protest in Parliament Square (PA Wire)
People take part in an anti-vaccine protest in Parliament Square (PA Wire)

Chief Superintendent Andy Walker said that despite arrests the protest went ahead “safely and without incident”.

He said: “We saw a significant number of people gather in central London to take part in a demonstration.

“Our policing plan was successfully implemented and I am pleased that the main event was facilitated safely and without incident.

“We reacted quickly to the decision by a small group to break away from the main protest and where offences were identified, arrests were made.”

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