Eight police officers have been injured as they dispersed crowds during an anti-lockdown protest in central London on Saturday.
Five people were arrested for offences that included assault on police officers, the Metropolitan police said. They remain in custody on Saturday night.
The Met said demonstrators hurled missiles, including bottles, during the protest in Hyde Park, which were attended by an estimated 10,000 people.
Two officers were taken to hospital, although their injuries were not believed to be serious, the Met said. Photographs posted on social media showed a female police officer bleeding from a cut to her head, while another suffered a similar wound on his forehead.
John Apter, the national chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, tweeted: “These officers are just doing a job. To be targeted in the way they are says a lot about the society we’ve become. I will continue to do my best to support them but I need government to do more, much more.”
Demonstrators defied social distancing rules to march through central London demanding a ban on vaccine passports and an end to lockdown. They carried banners displaying messages such as “vaccine passports = a two-tiered society” and “give flu a chance”. One placard read: “You don’t need proof to know truth.”
Some shoppers in Oxford Street were heckled by the crowd and told to “take your masks off”, according to eyewitnesses.
London mayoral candidates Piers Corbyn and Laurence Fox – two of the four anti-lockdown candidates running for election in May – were among those on the march.
The protest, which came almost two weeks after Covid-19 lockdown restrictions were eased, coincided with the UK passing the milestone of vaccinating half its population, with more than 33m first vaccinations and 11m second doses administered.
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