Eight arrests as four police officers injured in dramatic scenes at Camberwell protest

Eight people were arrested for offences including violent disorder and criminal damage at the protest in Camberwell Road in Southwark

Alex Ross
Saturday 30 December 2023 21:18
<p>A barrier appears to be thrown at police officers by members of the public involved in the protest</p>

A barrier appears to be thrown at police officers by members of the public involved in the protest

Eight people were arrested during a protest near a theatre in south London that turned violent with police officers coming under attack.

Four Met Police officers were injured in chaotic scenes while responding to a demonstration involving around 50 people in Camberwell Road in Southwark on Saturday afternoon.

A spokesperson said the protest, close to The Lighthouse Theatre, was related to “tensions amongst the Eritrean community”.

Footage shared online showed members of the public wavings sticks and throwing barriers at riot police, while traffic was brought to a standstil. The Met confirmed eight people had been arrested for offences including violent disorder, criminal damage, possession of an offensive weapon and assault on an emergency worker.

Four officers were injured, one of whom was taken to hospital and has now been discharged.

A statement shared by the Met’s Southwark police team on X at the time of the protest said: “Officers are on scene in Camberwell Road, SE5 where there is a protest with approximately 50 people gathered outside a private venue.

“Additional officers are on their way to the location to assist with the demonstration.”

Additional police officers were called to deal with the disturbance close to The Lighthouse Theatre

A dispersal order was put in place to move people away from the area

A dispersal order was brought in for an area around the protest by the local police team just before 2.30pm, and lasts until 7am on Sunday. Under the order, officers have the power to remove people from the area.

However, footage from around 4pm showed an apparent “stand off” with officers.

Videos shared online also showed police line the road with several riot vans in the area. A man could be heard using a mega phone to speak to a gathered crowd in another video.

It’s been suggested on social media that the protest centred on a meeting being held by the Eritrean embassy, and there was an initial confrontation between two groups.

The spokesperson for the Met Police told The Independent: “The protest is related to tensions amongst the Eritrean community.”

Eritrea is one of the poorest countries in Africa, located on the Red Sea coast between Ethiopia and Sudan. The one-party state won its independence from Ethioipa after a 30-year war in 1993, but has since been impacted by prolonged periods of conflict.

Thousands have fled the country in recent years, with some arriving in the UK.

In September last year, a demonstration was held outside the Eritrean Embassy in Islington against the country’s occupation of the Tigray region. The Met Police made 15 arrests for offences including public order.

And in August of this year, anti-Eritrean government protesters held a protest during a cultural festival in Sweden.

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