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Heavy police presence in London as protests heat up and Champions League final draws closer

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More than 2,000 police officers are on duty across London today to monitor fan events ahead of the Champions League final at Wembley, as well as at several protests.

It’s a busy day for Met Police officers as they keep an eye on Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid supporters ahead of 8pm kick off, while a protest led by far-right activist Tommy Robinson goes on at Parliament Square.

There was also a counter-protest led by Stand Up To Racism at Whitehall.

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Scenes from Tommy Robinson’s march on Saturday. Pic: PA

People take part in a protest march through London, organised by Tommy Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley Lennon. Groups from across the UK linked to football disorder are expected to attend the event the Metropolitan Police said. Picture date: Saturday June 1, 2024.
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Pic: PA

Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, says he is protesting what he refers to as “two-tier policing,” while Stand Up To Racism counter-protesters say they are campaigning against what they deem to be “racism and Islamophobia”.

Met Police say they have identified individuals in the crowd at Robinson’s protest who “have a history of being involved in violent disorder”.

In an update on X on Saturday afternoon, they added: “A number have football banning orders and are associated with hooligan groups from London and across the UK.

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“There is also an element of the crowd previously well known for involvement in anti-lockdown protests during the pandemic and associated disorder.

“While there have not been any offences so far, a number of people in the crowd are intoxicated. The event still has a number of hours left to go.”

Tommy Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley Lennon, speaks during a protest march at Parliament Square in London. Groups from across the UK linked to football disorder are expected to attend the event the Metropolitan Police said. Picture date: Saturday June 1, 2024. PA Photo. A static counter-protest, organised by Stand Up To Racism, will take place in Whitehall from midday. See PA story POLICE Protest. Photo credit should read: David Parry/PA Wire
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Tommy Robinson addresses the crowd at Parliament Square. Pic: PA

Tommy Robinson (centre), whose real name is Stephen Yaxley Lennon, leads a protest march through London to Parliament Square where speeches will take place and a film will be shown. Groups from across the UK linked to football disorder are expected to attend the event the Metropolitan Police said. Picture date: Saturday June 1, 2024.
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Robinson among protesters. Pic: PA

People take part in a protest march through London to Parliament Square, organised by Tommy Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley Lennon. Groups from across the UK linked to football disorder are expected to attend the event the Metropolitan Police said. Picture date: Saturday June 1, 2024.
Image:
Pic: PA

Met Police also said a number of people at a smaller protest in Waterloo had been arrested after attempting to block traffic. The Youth Demand protesters were demonstrating against Israel’s ongoing offensive in Gaza.

The Met has vowed its officers’ presence will continue to be felt into the evening, when Europe’s biggest club competition reaches its conclusion.

Fans on Olympic Way ahead of the Champions League final. Pic: Lucy North/PA
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Fans on Olympic Way ahead of the Champions League final. Pic: Lucy North/PA

T/Commander Louise Puddefoot, who is leading this weekend’s policing operation, said: “We want fans visiting London for this fantastic event to have a safe and enjoyable experience.

“There will be a visible police and stewarding presence not just around Wembley but at fan zones and other events.

“Anyone who sees anything suspicious or who has concerns about safety or security should speak to an officer or a member of the stewarding team.”

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