Six months after parliament passed the Coronavirus Act 2020, which gives the government powers to impose lockdowns and other restrictive social distancing measures (measures that have been accompanied by stiff fines), thousands of Britons packed London's Trafalgar Square bearing signs reading "We Do Not Consent" and "Think Before It's Illegal" during a rally that was billed as a "We Do Not Consent" anti-lockdown demonstration.
The event was organized by a coalition of political groups, and supporters have been galvanized by the talk of another London lockdown by mayor Sadiq Khan, as well as PM Boris Johnson's assurances that a lockdown would be imposed if the government felt all other measures had failed.
Protests are exempt from the rule of six, a rule that threatens fines for groups of more than six people, which has created much aggravation in the UK. Organizers of the rally had to submit a "risk assessment" and agree to comply with social distancing rules. While police told the press that the organizers had completed these requirements, the metropolitan police promised to crack down on those not wearing masks and violating other rules.
They added that enforcement "remains a last resort but will be undertaken if required."
Demonstrators waved signs and British flags and cheered as speakers - including several notable "conspiracy theories", according to the Guardian - addressed the crowd. Crowds chanted “freedom” as people whistled and clapped.
“I’ve been shouting that mandatory vaccines are coming, no one believed me. No we can see it’s just around the corner, we’ve never been closer.”— Damien Gayle (@damiengayle) September 26, 2020
Kerry Dunn, 41, from Bath, whose son, Beau, suffered severe brain damage after he was vaccinated. pic.twitter.com/lhZrLp022E
“What is see is fear and negativity being propagated. In Ayurveda, which is the root of western medicine, we say the thing that weakens the immune system the most is negativity.”— Damien Gayle (@damiengayle) September 26, 2020
Vinothini Apok, 40, a former doctor from north London. pic.twitter.com/ZvBzzGquDB
At points, police fulfilled their promise to break up crowds. Before they began, the protests received a warning from the Metropolitan Police, which said it would intervene if the protesters don’t abide by social distancing guidelines.
Toby Young, General Secretary of the Free Speech Union, expressed hope that law enforcement would allow the group to protest "as they did with [Extinction Rebellion] and BLM."
Thousands have gathered in Trafalgar Square to protest against the lockdown. I hope the police allow them to peacefully protest, as they did the BLM and XR protestors. pic.twitter.com/Ef4H7uoC0x— Toby Young (@toadmeister) September 26, 2020
Attending the protest, Kerry Dunn, 41, from Bath, claimed her son, Beau, suffered adverse affects after being vaccinated.
“I’ve been shouting that mandatory vaccines are coming, no one believed me,” she said. “Now we can see it’s just around the corner, we’ve never been closer."
Another event, billed as a “People’s network and family picnic”, is also being organised by the same activists for Sunday in Hyde Park.