Activism

Anti-monarchy protesters hold blank signs outside Parliament after arrests

Protesters held 'not my king' signs and blank pieces of paper in response to police arrests in the last few days

anti-monarchy protest

Police did not interfere in the protest, but did speak to protesters. Image: Greg Barradale/Big Issue

Police watched on as protesters held blank pieces of paper and anti-monarchy messages outside Parliament in response to arrests made after the death of the Queen.

Around a dozen protesters stood in the drizzle as tourists poured past, with some there to oppose the monarchy using the “Not My King” slogan and others turning out in support of free expression.

The demonstration follows the arrests of anti-monarchy protesters, including a man in Oxford who shouted, in reference to King Charles: “Who elected him?” and a woman in Scotland who held a sign saying: “Fuck imperialism, abolish the monarchy.” She was later charged with a breach of the peace, as was a 74-year-old man who was led away from the Palace of Holyrood and another man who heckled Prince Andrew in the Scottish capital.

Police have been criticised for the tactics, with human rights organisation Liberty stating: “Protest is not a gift from the state, it is a fundamental right.” Journalist Andrew Marr also hit out at “idiotic, heavy-handed policing” on his LBC radio show.

anti-monarchy protest
Protesters gathered outside parliament after the arrests of anti-monarchy demonstrators. Image: Greg Barradale/Big Issue

Barrister Paul Powlesland reported he was threatened with arrest outside parliament on Wednesday if he wrote “Not My King” on a blank piece of paper.

Speaking at Tuesday’s protest, he told the Big Issue it was a “big win” that police had stepped back.

“They have realised that they can’t clamp down on peaceful expression of opinion and actually those opinions have now multiplied,” Powlesland said.

“There are more people standing here. I think there is maybe a lesson to be learned there.”

Controversy grew after a woman holding a “Not My King” sign was filmed being escorted away from parliament by police on Monday.

The woman, who identified herself only as Jane, returned on Tuesday and gave the Big Issue her account of what happened during her one-person protest.

“They told me that I couldn’t have my sign here and that I would have to go somewhere else,” she said.

“There was a huge crowd of them and they basically surrounded me and ushered, escorted me away.”

anti-monarchy protest
“I think that I was blocking their optics and their narrative”, says a protester led away from parliament yesterday. Image: Greg Barradale/Big Issue

In the aftermath, police said she had been led away to let traffic through the Carriage Gates into parliament – an account Jane challenged.

“I think that I was blocking their optics and their narrative,” she said, adding it was “absolutely” the right time to protest.

“Here we are in front of Parliament and there is a new head of state being foist upon us, a king without consent, and that is the appropriate time to have a political conversation.

“There are a number of republicans in this country and their voices need to be heard as part of this process.”

Two people in Edinburgh have been charged with a breach of the peace after being arrested at the weekend – the 22-year-old woman holding the sign reading: “Fuck imperialism, abolish monarchy” and a pensioner who was led away from the Palace of Holyrood.

Police also arrested a man in Edinburgh after he heckled Prince Andrew while he was ​​following behind a hearse carrying the Queen’s coffin on Monday. The man has been charged with a breach of the peace.

The incidents prompted a group of anti-monarchy protesters in Edinburgh to hold blank placards and banners as the Queen’s coffin passed the Royal Mile on Tuesday.

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