NEWS
03/11/2017 13:55 GMT | Updated 03/11/2017 17:03 GMT

Million Mask March London: Police Issue Stark Warning To Activists

‘Peaceful protest is the last thing on the minds of some’

The Metropolitan Police has issued a series of conditions on the proposed Million Mask March, due to be held on Sunday 5 November – Guy Fawkes Night.

The measures have been imposed under the Public Order Act and stipulate strict times during which the march - an annual protest against state surveillance incursions - may operate.

Participants must follow the directions of police even if the route is varied and risk arrest if they do not. (Scroll down for the conditions in full.) There will also be a lockdown on vehicles as part of the procession.

PA Archive/PA Images
Protestors demonstrate on The Strand, London, during the Million Mask March bonfire night protest organised by activist group Anonymous

Amid fears of repeats of the violence seen in recent years, Chief Superintendent Elaine Van-Orden said: “We have strong reasons to believe that peaceful protest is the last thing on the minds of some of those who will attend.

“Criminality at the event has increased year-on-year. Arrests have increased from four in 2012 to 53 in 2016. Last year, a number of fireworks and flares were lit and thrown into the crowds in Trafalgar Square and aimed towards police officers.

“Those who choose to behave like this are not protestors, they are committing criminal acts and we will endeavour to deal with them. 

Peter Nicholls / Reuters
Police officers apprehend a protester during the march last year 

“We therefore have such serious concerns about this event on Sunday, 5 November, that we have made the decision to impose conditions under the Public Order Act.

“Our message, as it was last year, is simple: If you wish to protest peacefully, that is your right and we want to work with you. If you commit criminal acts or breach the conditions of the event, you are liable to be arrested.”

This year a Facebook group promoting the march lists 777 people as attending with a further 1,200 “interested.”

Peter Nicholls / Reuters
Guy Fawkes masks have been worn during the march since 2012 

It states: “We have seen the abuses and malpractice of this government and governments before it, and we have seen the encroaching destruction of many civil liberties we hold dear.

“We have seen the pushes to make the internet yet another part of the surveillance state, we have seen the government’s disregard for migrants, for the poor, the elderly and the disabled, we have seen the capital, profit and greed of the few put before the well-being of the many and we say enough is enough.

“The government and the 1% have played their hand, now it is time to play ours.”

Million Mask Marches are set to take place across the world, with the biggest said to be in London.

In 2012, thousands donned Guy Fawkes masks near Westminster in tribute to the infamous member of the 1605 Gunpowder Plot. The idea for a masked protest appears to have been spurred by the final scene of 2006 dystopian thriller ‘V For Vendetta’.

Details of the conditions imposed under Section 14 Public Order Act 1986

Any static assembly held can only take place at the following locations:

- Trafalgar Square.
- In the barriered area on the East Footway of Whitehall, opposite Downing Street (known as Richmond Terrace).
- In the area in the centre of Parliament Square (known as Parliament Square Gardens).
- Any assembly held at any of these three locations will start no earlier than 18:00hrs and conclude no later than 21:00hrs.

Details of the conditions imposed under Section 12 Public Order Act 1986:

- The march will commence from Trafalgar Square and must stay within the area bounded by Trafalgar Square, Northumberland Avenue, Victoria Embankment, Bridge Street, Parliament Square, Parliament Street, Whitehall, St. Margaret’s Street, Abingdon Street and Millbank (up to the junction with Great Peter Street).

- The march must not commence before 18:00hrs.
- The march must not continue after 21:00hrs.
- The participants must follow the directions of a constable even if the route is varied.
- There will be no motor-vehicles as part of the procession.
- Any person in breach of these conditions is liable to be arrested.