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‘Biased’ Met Police arrest protesters for holding image of ‘clear blue sky’

THE Metropolitan Police faces fresh claims of political bias after pro-Palestine protesters were arrested under the Terrorism Act for holding up a banner with a dove in a “clear, blue sky.”

The four activists were detained outside University College London at around 6.30pm on Saturday after rallying in solidarity with students calling for an end to Israeli-linked investments.

During police interviews, officers said the banner, depicting a dove carrying a key flying through a breach in Israel’s apartheid wall, allegedly supported the proscribed Hamas militant group because it “depicted a clear blue sky with no clouds, and on October 7 there was clear blue sky with no clouds.”

The two men and two women were released under police bail under investigation for Section 13 of the Terrorism Act and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and Camden Friends of Palestine (CFP) are understood to be considering legal action over the arrests.

The group had joined thousands who marched against the Gaza massacre across the country over the weekend, protesting outside a Barclays bank in central London before rallying alongside an ongoing 24-hour student sit-down at University College London.

The four are understood to include a doctor in his fifties and two parents, including one who had never been to a protest before and is said to be “very distressed” by the arrest.

A Palestinian student who witnessed the arrests told the Morning Star that a police officer asked the protesters holding the banner for their personal details and what the image symbolised.

The witness said he explained that it showed the apartheid wall in the West Bank but a few hours later more than 10 officers swarmed the group as they were packing the banner away.

He said: “They came in a rough way and arrested them. They didn’t inform them about what was wrong. It’s unjustified.

“Do we have a right to raise a case against the police in regards to the reputation of these people? It’s unfair.

“I think this is the reason: to disperse us, to spread fear and to target people ‘who shouldn’t get involved’.”

Susan Michie and Gill Jacobs attended the march with the PSC and CFP but did not see the arrests themselves.

They spoke to the Morning Star on behalf of those who were arrested after they were released this morning.

Ms Michie said that they unfurled the banner as some 10 Israeli counter-protesters were playing loud music opposite the student encampment at the gates of the university.

She said witnesses had told her “the police were doing it on the instructions of the counter-demonstrators.”

Earlier this month Met Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley praised the “professional” conduct of a sergeant who stopped Gideon Falter, of the Campaign Against Antisemitism, from entering a pro-Palestinian march on the grounds he was there to provoke trouble.

“We are convinced that the zionists instigated this. The police were happy to because they wanted to show they are ‘fair’,” said Ms Jacobs.

“What came out in the interview was the ‘blue sky.’

“The four people holding the banner were [said to be] Hamas supporters because the banner depicted a clear blue sky, with no clouds, and on October 7, there was a clear blue sky with no clouds and that was the reason.

“Now the four people are without their phones and we don’t have our banner back. We will see what happens.”

Section 13 of the Terrorism Act states it is an offence for a person to wear, carry or display an article, “in such a way or in such circumstances as to arouse reasonable suspicion that he is a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation.”

A Met Police spokeswoman confirmed that four people were arrested on Saturday “in relation to the displaying of a banner that appeared to be supporting a proscribed organisation.”

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Ade Adelekan said the forces’ “response was proportionate” in its operations during the protests, adding: “We will continue to police without fear or favour and use our policing powers to their full extent.”

At a demonstration against the arrests today, former South African MP Andrew Feinstein announced he would “likely” stand against Sir Keir Starmer for the safe Labour seat of Holborn and St Pancras in the general election amid the party’s criticism against pro-Palestine protesters.

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