The Arrest of Antimonarchists Raises Criticism in the United Kingdom

    Civil liberties advocates criticize police treatment of those who defy the wave of sympathy for the royal family

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    British police faced criticism from civil liberties groups on Tuesday for their treatment of anti-monarchist protesters who, in a clear minority, defy the wave of sympathy for the royal family after the death of Elizabeth II.

    On Monday, images of a demonstrator holding a protest banner with the slogan “He is not my king” went viral on social networks, alluding to the heir to the throne, Charles III, and who was confronted by at least four agents in front of to the British Parliament in London.She was seen being escorted out of the venue, and was reportedly forced to another location away from the gates of parliament.

    Lawyer and climate activist Paul Powlesland also wrote on Twitter that he had been warned by an officer that he risked arrest after holding up a blank piece of paper in front of Parliament.

    “He confirmed to me that if I wrote ‘He is not my king’ on it, he would arrest me under the Public Order Law because someone could be offended,” he posted on the social network, along with a video in which he is seen talking to an agent.

    The UK is in national mourning over the death of 96-year-old Queen Elizabeth II, which has sparked a rare moment of national unity.But it has also raised questions about space for dissent, with several civil liberties groups warning that the police are not respecting the rights of the small Republican minority.

    Charles III, an opportunity

    “Police officers have a duty to protect people’s right to protest, just as much as to facilitate people’s right to express their support, their grief, or pay their respects,” the civil rights group Big Brother Watch said in a statement.

    In another incident, a 45-year-old man was arrested in Oxford, southern England, on Sunday after shouting “Who picked him?!” during a public proclamation of accession of Carlos III.

    Jodie Beck of the Liberty campaign group said the right to protest was “a vital part of a healthy and functioning democracy.””It is deeply worrying to see the police wielding their extensive powers in such a harsh and punitive way to suppress freedom of expression,” he said in a statement.

    Critics of the monarchy are a minority in the UK. A survey published in May this year by the YouGov institute revealed that 13% consider the institution “bad” for the country, and 54% “good”.

    However, the republicans see in the ascent to the throne of Charles III an opportunity to gain ground. “Charles is easier to criticize” than Elizabeth II, Graham Smith, director of the Republic movement, said, explaining that “he does not have the same support as the queen” and “is not protected by the same aura.”

    Right to protest

    The police themselves implicitly admitted the overzealousness of their officers.”The public absolutely has the right to protest,” Metropolitan Police Deputy Commissioner Stuart Cundy recalled in a statement.”We have made it clear to all the agents involved in the extraordinary police operation that is being carried out and we will continue to do so,” he added.

    The queen’s coffin was put on public display for the first time in Edinburgh on Monday after a silent procession in which a young man shouted at Prince Andrew as he walked behind the hearse.

    The assailant, who called Andrew a “sick old man” in reference to his ties to American pedophile financier Jeffry Epstein, was evicted and escorted away by police.Passers-by reacted by shouting “God save the King!”

    Scottish police confirmed that two people had been arrested and charged on Monday for public order offences.Charges were also brought against another woman who held an “abolish the monarchy” sign at a King Charles III proclamation ceremony in Edinburgh on Sunday, according to news reports.

    “Obviously this is a period of national mourning for the majority, the vast, vast majority of the country,” a spokesman for Prime Minister Liz Truss told reporters on Tuesday.”But the fundamental right to protest remains a cornerstone of our democracy,” she added.

    The UK Public Order Act 1986 gives police powers to arrest people found guilty of causing “harassment, alarm or distress” by “threatening or disorderly speech or behaviour”, including the display of banners.

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