Met police officer reveals shock at being hit in face by can of beer hurled by far-right thugs at Palestine protest – as force reveals 18 officers were injured
A Metropolitan Police officer has revealed his shock at being hit in the face by a can of beer hurled by far-right thugs on Armistice Day – as the force revealed 18 officers were injured in total.
Sgt Lee Smith was stationed at Bridge Street in Westminster when a group of football hooligans broke through a cordon and began rushing towards the main pro-Palestine march.
At this point one of the yobs threw a can of beer which cut his mouth and split open his lip.
Sgt Smith said: ‘The can hit me and I stumbled back and it felt like I had been punched in the face. It was a really horrible situation, but I didn’t want to go to hospital and leave my team.
‘I looked around and could see a lot of our younger officers were worried, and it’s not fair that they’re subjected to that. We were isolated and holding the line, but I was proud of our officer’s resilience when responding to the events over the weekend.’
Football hooligan counter-protesters clash with police near Parliament Square on Armistice Day
The Met said it was ‘continuing to support’ 18 officers who were injured on Saturday, including nine from other forces.
Of the 18 who were injured, 16 were a direct result of actions from the crowds.
Officers were spat at, pushed to the ground, punched, and hit by fireworks, bottles and other missiles, resulting in dislocations and broken bones.
READ MORE – How London bus passenger hurled vile anti-Semitic abuse in sickening Armistice Day incident
Three officers were hospitalised and received treatment for their injuries, including a fractured elbow and a suspected dislocated hip.
The Met said it was continuing to ‘examine hundreds of hours of CCTV’ to identify wrongdoers, and last night published images of 11 men suspected of a range of offences, including appearing to support proscribed organisations.
A senior officer previously said ‘intense debate about protest and policing’ helped ‘increase community tensions’ before the chaos on Armistice Day, which saw 145 arrests i total.
Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist called the ‘extreme violence’ of far-right protesters towards police ‘extraordinary and deeply concerning’.
‘A week of intense debate about protest and policing’ helped ‘increase community tensions’, he said.
Former Home Secretary Suella Braverman had branded pro-Palestinian protesters ‘hate marchers’ and accused the police of bias for letting the rally go ahead. She has since been sacked.
While far-right protesters were responsible for most of the violence on Saturday the pro-Palestine march was once again marred by numerous instances of antisemitism and racism.
The Met said it was ‘continuing to support’ 18 officers who were injured on Saturday, including nine from other forces. Pictured are police near Parliament Square
This included two men seen wearing headbands supporting Hamas; a man with a sign saying ‘welcome to Gaza, twinned with Auschwitz’; and a woman with a banner depicting Rishi Sunak and Suella Braverman as ‘coconuts’.
The Prime Minister had a meeting yesterday with Met commissioner Sir Mark Rowley, where he stressed the ‘vital importance’ of pursuing both Hamas supporters and ‘those responsible for violent scenes’, a Number 10 spokesman said.
READ MORE – Tommy Robinson ‘jumped in a taxi’ just moments after leading far-right hooligans through London on Armistice Day where they clashed with police
No 10 said the powers available to officers to deal with protests would be kept under review to see if they need to be beefed up.
There have been suggestions that ministers could give police greater powers to tackle protests following the clashes over the weekend.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘The public rightly expect that the full force of the law is used to bear down on some of the shocking scenes of criminality we saw over the weekend, whether it was EDL protesters or those seemingly supporting Hamas, a proscribed terrorist organisation.’
Speaking after Mr Sunak’s meeting with Sir Mark, he said: ‘(The Prime Minister and Sir Mark) discussed the ongoing challenge of policing the marches and the need to ensure the Jewish community feels safe in light of the continued use of antisemitic chants and imagery.’
The official said the PM had asked Sir Mark to pass on his thanks to officers on the front line during the weekend, adding: ‘They have an extremely difficult job to do and he was grateful to them for doing it.’
He added: ‘It’s important that police have the powers they need to carry out their role and we will continue to keep that under review.’
The commissioner had come under pressure from politicians after several weeks of demonstrations for a ceasefire in the escalating conflict between Israel and Hamas.
Officers arrest a man on a street in Westminster following clashes throughout the day
Saturday’s march coincided with Armistice Day and multiple Conservative MPs had urged organisers to cancel the demonstration, which Mr Sunak had branded ‘provocative and disrespectful’.
The Prime Minister had said that both far-right ‘thugs’ and ‘those singing antisemitic chants and brandishing pro-Hamas signs and clothing’ must face ‘the full and swift force of the law’ following Saturday’s unrest.
Sir Mark also met Mrs Braverman’s replacement, James Cleverly as the Home Office said the new Home Secretary will work with the force to ‘drive down crime’.
Downing Street did not deny an apparent change in tone within the Home Office since Mr Cleverly took over after the department shared a photo of the minister with Sir Mark, accompanied by the message that the force has the Government’s ‘backing’ to keep the British public safe.
‘I’ll leave it to you to decide how to interpret pictures issued by the Home Office,’ the PM’s spokesman said.
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