In ‘stop the coup’ demos, police arrest protesters while protecting some from the far right

Police escorting counter protesters at 'stop the coup' protest in London on 31 August 2019
Afroze Fatima Zaidi

On 31 August, thousands of people took to the streets to protest against Boris Johnson’s proroguing of parliament. Protesters gathered in many major cities across the UK and shared updates and images on social media using the hashtag #stopthecoup.

However, the police presence was a cause for concern. Some tried to convince protesters in London to ‘clear the streets’:

Kettling and arrests

The police also ‘kettled’ protesters by surrounding and confining them to a small area:

Many protesters in London have since been arrested. Among them is London Assembly Member and Councillor, Caroline Russell:

Support for those arrested

A protest to support arrestees took place at Charing Cross Station later in the evening on 31 August:

Protecting the far right

While the kettling and arrests are concerning in their own right, they are made worse by the fact that police actively protected counter-protesters. In other words, the police arrested people protesting against the government, while protecting those who support it:

Among the counter-protesters was convicted far-right leader James Goddard:


Many people have expressed concerns over the arrests, highlighting the implications for democracy:

However, as some pointed out, the police working with the state to protect its interests is nothing new:

Despite this apparent criminalisation of dissent, the people have made their will abundantly clear through widespread protests. And if Boris Johnson’s government truly wishes to uphold democracy, it must now listen to the will of the people, and act accordingly.

Featured image via Twitter/ PoliticsJOE

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  • Show Comments
    1. The Metropolitan Police should take a leaf out the Manchester police’s book. As Paul Mason pointed out, the police had to set up a little cordon round James Goddard who was trying, in vain, to attract attention. I suspect they were doing it for his safety, though he wasn’t in danger. The protest was peaceful and no one was looking for a punch-up. Only he was trying to stir up trouble. Most people in the crowd laughed at his futile attempt to make himself important.
      By and large, the police were low-key in Manchester. We marched at our own initiative and they didn’t intervene.
      Arresting people for sitting in the road to defend democracy: bad, bad, bad. There was no violence, no criminal damage. The police need democracy too.

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