Eight police officers hurt after bottles thrown at anti-lockdown protest in London

Eight police officers were injured after violence broke out at an anti-lockdown protest in central London attended by thousands of people.

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Demonstrators chant ‘freedom’ and ‘take off your mask’ on march through capital

Eight police officers were injured after violence broke out at an anti-lockdown protest in central London attended by thousands of people.

Bottles were thrown as the Metropolitan Police attempted to disperse crowds in Hyde Park at the end of the demonstration on Saturday evening.

The force said two of the injured officers were taken to hospital but were not believed to be seriously injured. Photos posted on social media showed a female police officer bleeding from a cut to her head and a male police officer with a cut to his forehead.

Five people were arrested for offences including assault on police.

It came after an estimated 10,000 joined the “Unite for Freedom” march through the capital to oppose measures in place to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Protesters – mostly not wearing face coverings – carried signs and marched through London chanting “freedom” and “take off your mask”.

Images from Hyde Park showed protesters holding placards reading “you don’t need proof to know the truth”, “no to vaccine passports” and “the people refuse your totalitarian state agenda”.

A Met Police officer walks amongst protestors during a ‘Unite For Freedom' anti-lockdown demonstration
A Met Police officer walks amongst protestors during a ‘Unite For Freedom’ anti-lockdown demonstration (Getty Images)

The Met described the violence as “small pockets of disorder” which broke out after the organised event finished at 6.30pm.

Earlier in the day two men were arrested for public order offences near Embankment and Trafalgar Square.

Anti-lockdown protests have taken place in London over the course of the coronavirus pandemic, including recent months.

Last month 36 people were arrested at an anti-lockdown protest in London, which saw thousands march through the capital and demonstrators clash with police.

Dozens of arrests were made at similar demonstrations against lockdown restrictions in the capital in the months before.

Meanwhile, two more arrests have been made in connection with a Kill the Bill protest in Bristol that turned violent. Avon and Somerset Police said two men aged 23 and 25 were arrested on suspicion of violent disorder following the disturbances on 21 March.

The 25-year-old was also detained on suspicion of arson in connection with a fire which damaged a mobile police station van. He remains in custody while the other man has been released under investigation. “A total of 44 people have now been arrested in connection with this investigation and in addition, a 14-year-old boy has also attended for a voluntary interview,” a force spokesman said.

Protesters gathered in central London for a ‘Unite For Freedom’ demonstration against lockdown restrictions
Protesters gathered in central London for a ‘Unite For Freedom’ demonstration against lockdown restrictions (Getty Images)

In mid-April, England eased its restrictions on socialising – allowing a group of six people or two households to meet outside – and businesses, with gyms, non-essential retail and hairdressers reopening after months of closure.

Restrictions on indoor gatherings and international travel will be lifted in mid-May at the earliest.

The final stage of England’s roadmap out of lockdown is planned for no earlier than June and will see all legal limits on social contract lifted and nightclubs allowed to reopen.

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