Tommy Robinson, an anti-Islam agitator, was in London on Saturday and urged supporters to take to the streets, calling for an “uncontrollable mass of men who are willing to stand for their country.” Mr. Robinson had been barred from posting on X but has since been reinstated to the platform.
On Saturday morning, the London police said in a statement said that “officers have faced aggression from counterprotesters who are in the area in significant numbers.” It added that the protesters were not one cohesive group and that they “confronted and threw missiles at officers who tried to engage with them” as they moved toward other parts of the city, including Chinatown.
“Officers are keeping track of them as they do,” the police said, adding that if their intention was to confront the main pro-Palestinian protest, then “we will use all the powers and tactics available to us to prevent that from happening.”
The police had allowed the main march to proceed despite resistance from some political circles.
Under British law, the police can apply for a ban if there is a risk of serious public disorder, but Britain’s most senior police officer said that threshold had not been met in this case. “The laws created by Parliament are clear,” Mark Rowley, the Met Police’s chief commissioner, said in a statement on Tuesday. “There is no absolute power to ban protest; therefore there will be a protest this weekend.”
After meeting with Mr. Rowley and seeking assurances that the police would safeguard the remembrance events, Mr. Sunak issued a statement saying he accepted that the march would go ahead. But the following day, Ms. Braverman wrote an opinion article that accused the police of bias and described attendees of previous protests as “hate marchers,” “Islamists” and “mobs,” even though past demonstrations had been mostly peaceful.
Mr. Sunak’s spokesperson said that Downing Street was investigating the circumstances surrounding the publication of the article, which drew fierce criticism.
Ben Jamal, the director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, one of the British groups that has organized the weekly rallies, called Ms. Braverman’s language “reckless” and “deeply irresponsible.” Mr. Jamal, who is of Palestinian and British descent, said the group had been in touch with the police since the earliest demonstration because of the number of protesters involved, “and we need to know we can do that safely.”
On Saturday, some at the march said that they had been motivated by the home secretary’s comments as well.