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Arrests of Anti-Monarchy Protesters

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In September 2022, UK police arrested or cautioned protesters with anti-monarchy signs in the UK.

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On September 11 and 12 2022, popular tweets claimed that individuals protesting the monarchy at ongoing public events in the UK were (in some cases) being cautioned, detained, or arrested:

Across the United Kingdom, various public events occurred on September 11 and 12 2022. Generally, their purpose related to the death of Queen Elizabeth II, or public proclamations heralding a new King — specificallly, Charles III.

One of the incidents unfolded in Scotland. British tabloid Metro.co.uk tweeted that a woman was arrested in Edinburgh for holding a sign:

In the tweet, the outlet indicated a woman was “arrested after holding [an] ‘abolish monarchy’ sign in Edinburgh.” However, the sign was clearly censored by the same outlet, and read “fuck imperialism[,] abolish [the] monarchy.”

In a linked article, the site included the sign’s wording, and reported that the woman was arrested for “a breach of the peace”:

A woman was arrested holding an anti-monarchy sign in Edinburgh [on September 11 2022], before the Queen’s cortege arrived in the city.

She was detained outside St Giles’ Cathedral, where the monarch’s coffin is due to be held from [September 12 2022] after spending the night at the Palace of
Holyroodhouse.

Moments before the proclamation of Charles III as new king this afternoon, a demonstrator appeared in the crowd opposite the Mercat Cross.

She held a sign saying ‘f*** imperialism, abolish monarchy’ … A police spokesman said a 22-year-old woman was arrested ‘in connection with a breach of the peace’.

Other readers suggested that the framing was misleading, and ane commenter claiming to have been present said that others protesting were not arrested. Other accounts shared satirical views of the debate:

In another incident, a man holding a “not my king” sign was purportedly “led away by police”:

In a direct response to that tweet (and video without audio), the verified account @MetPoliceEvents said:

A member of the public was asked to move away from the Carriage Gates outside the Palace of Westminster this morning [September 12 2022] in order to facilitate vehicle access and egress through the gates.

They were not arrested and were not asked to leave the wider area.

A third incident in Oxford on September 11 2022 involved a man named Symon Hill. Hill tweeted:

When asked what specifically had happened, Hill said that the incident occurred during the reading of a proclamation:

When the proclamation was read out, I called out “Who elected him?”. 2 or 3 people told me to shut up. I responded (with an opinion, not an insult). Security guards grabbed me. Police took me off them and arrested me. I’ll write a fuller account when I’m a bit calmer. #NotMyKing

In a second response, Hill added that he was informed he might be “charged”:

Aha! I was released but told I might be contacted for an interview and possibly charged (I refused to be interviewed straight away without a lawyer present).

Hill also maintained that he did not disrupt any mourning, and once again objected to his interaction with police:

On September 12 2022, a Twitter account claimed to have been intercepted by law enforcement for possession of a blank piece of paper (and cautioned not to write “Not My King” on it). In response to questions, he uploaded video of the interaction:

Around the same time, a UK-based journalist collated incidents involving protesters:

At least two Members of Parliament addressed the interactions:

The Oxford Mail reported that Thames Valley Police had corroborated the incident involving Symon Hill and confirmed that they continued to “investigate a public order offense”:

“I feel very surprised and very shaken and I feel like my free-speech and my dignity as a person have been attacked simply because I expressed an opinion.”

[Hill] said there was confusion about the law under which he had been arrested. He believed he had been detained under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act this summer.

However, a Thames Valley Police spokeswoman said that a 45-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of committing an offence under section five of the Public Order Act, which prohibits ‘disorderly behaviour’.

“He has subsequently been de-arrested and is engaging with us voluntarily as we investigate a public order offence,” she added.

On September 11 and 12 2022, reports of conflicts between anti-monarchy protesters (“republicans”) and law enforcement circulated on social media. Police in Oxford confirmed one of the incidents, while a Metropolitan Police account denied that a man was arrested or detained outside the Palace of Westminster (claiming that he was simply asked to move “in order to facilitate vehicle access and egress through the gates.”) A woman arrested in Scotland held a sign with profanity on it, a factor possibly influencing the decision to arrest her.