A man is led away by police in Birmingham city centre – Image: Peter Goddard

Mirror Online: LONDON, England – Maskless protesters clashed with police and there were 11 arrests as 150 people ignored COVID-19 laws and safety advice to gather for an illegal anti-lockdown event.

A large crowd of demonstrators, including COVID-19 conspiracy theorists and hoaxers, showed up in Birmingham city centre despite warnings from police and NHS medics describing the horrors of the frontline.

Today it was announced a further 1,295 COVID deaths had been recorded over the previous 24 hours.

Tensions flared as protesters and police clashed near the Bullring on Saturday afternoon.

Video posted on social media showed officers restraining a man near St Martin’s Church in front of a crowd, BirminghamLive reports.

Referring to online footage, a spokesperson for West Midlands Police said “we’re satisfied our officers acted proportionately”.

Police said the arrests occurred after officers asked protesters to move on from the gathering, where they were flouting England’s national lockdown rules, but “some did not listen”.

About 40 officers sealed off Victoria Square from about 1pm to bring the protest to a halt.

Officers were later sent to other parts of the city centre as clashes erupted.

One officer told BirminghamLive he helped with an arrest after failing to convince the protesters to go home.

He said: “They were trying to congregate, we told them 20 times not to.

Image: Peter Goddard

“Some other officers grabbed them and took them away, I’m not sure where they are now.”

Police were seen dispersing a small group, including two children, after telling them to leave.

One officer was heard saying: “The train station is that way.”

A woman was heard sarcastically replying “Thank you, I feel so protected” as police followed the group a few metres behind.

Some of the group were carrying signs claiming Covid-19 was a hoax.

A West Midlands Police spokesperson said: “A number of arrests have been made following a planned protest in Birmingham city centre today.

A woman is led into a police van in Birmingham city centre
A woman is led to a police van by officers, who are wearing face masksImage: Peter Goddard
West Midlands Police officers are seen pinning down a person in Birmingham
West Midlands Police had warned people not to gather for the protestImage: Peter Goddard

“Yesterday, we warned members of the public against attending the protest as this was unlawful under the new COVID regulations, sadly nearly 150 people chose to ignore our pleas and still turned up.

“We spoke to those in attendance and asked them to move on as they could not offer us a reasonable excuse as to why they were in breach of national lockdown restrictions.

“Despite engaging with the people, explaining what was expected of them and encouraging them to move on, some did not listen.

Police break up an anti-lockdown protest in the centre of Birmingham
Police break up an anti-lockdown protest in the centre of BirminghamImage: Peter Goddard

“We therefore had to enforce the rules and have so far issued three fixed penalty notices and made 11 arrests. They have been taken into police custody.

“Officers on routine patrols around Birmingham city centre also issued 25 fixed penalty notices to members of the public failing to follow the rules.

“Finally, we are aware of a video circulating on social media showing arrests from today’s protest. It has been reviewed and we’re satisfied our officers acted proportionately.”Police at an anti-lockdown protest in Birmingham city centre

Police officers are seen during attempts to halt the anti-lockdown protestImage: Stephanie Balloo

Chief Superintendent Kim Madill, who oversaw the event, said: “Although under normal circumstances we accept and protect people’s right to protest, under current legislation, attending a protest is not considered an exception to leaving your house and is unlawful.

“We advised people not to attend, and although some people listened, a large amount chose to ignore our pleas and put the safety of themselves and others at risk.

“We would like to thank businesses in the city centre that supported today’s operation and the majority of the public, who were not involved in the protest that were complying with Covid regulations.”
  • Top Feature Photo: Police say 11 people were arrested as officers tried to stop an anti-lockdown protestImage: Peter Goddard