UK anti-monarchists arrested before King Charles' coronation
Anti-monarchy group Republic's chief executive Graham Smith is one of those arrested.
UK police on Saturday arrested leading members of the anti-monarchy group Republic as they prepared to protest along the route of a procession for the coronation of King Charles III, the organization confirmed.
"They've arrested six of our organisers and seized hundreds of placards, they won't tell us why they've arrested them or where they're being held," a Republic member told AFP in London's Trafalgar Square.
Republic chief executive Graham Smith was one of those arrested before the group had a chance to wave placards reading: "Not My King."
May 6, 2023
UK police forces were controversially granted new anti-protest powers by the government under a new law rushed through this week.
On its Twitter feed, Republic confirmed the arrests and seizure of placards. "Is this democracy?" it demanded.
This morning, @GrahamSmith_ and 5 members of our team were arrested. Hundreds of placards were seized. Is this democracy? #NotMyKing #Coronation— Republic (@RepublicStaff) May 6, 2023
"We certainly have no plans to disrupt the actual procession," Smith told reporters last week.
Waving placards and shouting would show "in front of the world's press that we are not a country of loyalists, that there is a growing opposition," he said.
The new law was enacted after months of disruptive tactics around Britain by groups opposed to fossil fuels. It entails stiffer jail terms against activists gluing and padlocking themselves to immovable objects.
Separately on Saturday, 13 members of the group Just Stop Oil were arrested and handcuffed by police on The Mall between Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace, according to AFP.
However, the Metropolitan police confirmed only seven arrests early Saturday "on suspicion of offences including breaching the peace and conspiracy to cause public nuisance close to the coronation."
Officers seized "lock-on devices" from one group next to Trafalgar Square, it said.
On its part, Human Rights Watch slammed Saturday's arrest by UK police of protesters at the coronation of King Charles III as "incredibly alarming", attacking the UK government for its "increasingly averse" stance on public demonstrations.
Read more: UK braces for King Charles III coronation amid anti-monarchy protests