At least 55 people were arrested in the Royal Wedding security zone yesterday, reports the BBC. While the Scotland Yard called this "an amazing success" for wedding security, others accused the police of "disproportionate" action, saying the raids appeared to be "some form of pre-emptive strike."
Four people were arrested the night before the wedding for conspiracy to cause a public nuisance and breach of the peace. One of them was planning to behead an effigy of Prince Andrew with a theatrical guillotine, in what his friends said was a piece of street theater. His daughter protested:
"My father was going to take part in a performance. It was going to be in the great British tradition and was going to be playful, peaceful and satirical to highlight the obscenity of the royal wedding and the grotesque nature of the taxpayer having to pay for the Windsor wedding at a time of such austerity."
On Friday, by the time the vows were over, police had imposed a Section 60 blanket stop-and-search order around the whole royal wedding zone, which allowed officers to search people without discretion. This lasted for several hours. Guardian reports that police said they arrested 13 people at Charing Cross station, who were found to have "climbing equipment and anti-monarchy placards." However, one of the arrested activists posted an anonymous, personal account of the incident:
The placards weren’t out, we weren’t having a demonstration. We were standing on a concourse outside a station, doing nothing much... I was grabbed by a TSG officer who informed me that because we were in possession of “climbing gear” we were to be arrested to prevent a breach of the peace... There was nothing that anyone could reasonable have mistaken for climbing gear.
We were not at any point charged with any offense, nor was any indication given that we would be charged with any offense... At this point I was banged up in a cell for a little under an hour, before being released into the wilds of Sutton... It’s one way to miss the royal wedding I suppose.
Officers also arrested on five people, three of whom were wearing zombie make-up, when they entered a branch of Starbucks on Oxford Street, Guardian reports. They were arrested "on suspicion of planning a breach of the peace".
"We were just dressing up as zombies," Amy Cutler, who was wearing a "marry me instead" T-shirt, told Guardian. "It is nice to dress up as zombies."