Tennis balls thrown at Parliament during anti-lockdown protest

·3-min read

Anti-lockdown protesters have thrown tennis balls at Parliament and Downing Street as thousands joined a demonstration in central London.

Chanting and whistling crowds carrying placards marched through the city centre towards Parliament Square on Saturday.

Hundreds of tennis balls, some bearing protest messages, were hurled over the fences surrounding the Houses of Parliament.

Protesters let off flares and also threw tennis balls outside Downing Street, with some shouting “shame on you” and pointing towards Number 10, followed by booing.

Anti-vax protest
Tennis balls were thrown at the Houses of Parliament (Aaron Chown/PA)

Asked why protesters were throwing tennis balls, one man, who did not wish to be named, said: “They have little messages on them. Most of them are not very nice.”

Protesters, many not wearing masks, carried placards bearing anti-vaccine and anti-restrictions messages, while others waved flags.

In Hyde Park, officers were pictured trying to remove from police vans windows adhesive stickers carrying anti-vaccine messages.

Iain McCausland, who travelled to London from Devon, said: “The main reason I’m here is because I feel this lockdown has come at the cost of our liberty and rights.

“Our freedom to assemble, our freedom to travel and work. I’m really quite angry with the Government, so are everyone here.”

Anti-vax protest
Anti-lockdown protesters on the streets (Aaron Chown/PA)

Kayleigh Brooke, 29, from Manchester, said she has been camping for four weeks on Clapham Common, south London, in protest at the vaccine rollout.

“We want the Coronavirus Act 2020 gone, and we will keep on protesting until that happens,” she said.

A man who only gave his name as Gareth, 29, from Walthamstow, north-east London, said: “I’m on the march because I feel that the Government is over-reaching and its response to a threat has been far beyond what’s necessary.”

Other gatherings and marches are also taking place in central London over the weekend.

The People’s Assembly had promoted a national demonstration against the Government, which included criticism of a range of issues including the controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

Lockdown protesters
Protesters let off flares outside Downing Street during the anti-lockdown march (Aaron Chown/PA)

Images and videos shared on social media by Extinction Rebellion showed people marching through London and speeches in Parliament Square, including from former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Causes being represented in other Twitter users’ photos on Saturday included support for Palestinians and the rights of trans people.

Three people were arrested during the protests for breach of the peace, assault on police and an individual who was already wanted for a previous assault.

Gold Commander of the operation, Chief Superintendent Karen Findlay, said: “The significant majority of those protesting today engaged in a positive manner with our officers.

“We did experience small pockets of anti-social behaviour in Whitehall which involved missiles being thrown at officers, but these were dealt with quickly and effectively.”

Three officers suffered minor injuries throughout the course of the day, the Met Police said.

On Friday, the Metropolitan Police said it had arrested 12 people as part of a crackdown on demonstrators ahead of the weekend and warned it had “zero tolerance for disorder or criminality”.

Raids at three locations in the capital saw the seizing of items including bamboo structures, lock-on equipment and other items “which could be used to cause criminal damage and obstructions”.

Extinction Rebellion reported on its website that four members were arrested at one of its warehouses in east London.

It is claimed the women had been “creating art” for the Free the Press march on Sunday in Parliament Square.

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