The Metropolitan Police has been criticized for arresting a distressed driver attempting to clear a Valentine’s Day roadblock protest by animal rights activists.
The incident occurred shortly after 10 a.m. on Tuesday when five protesters began a sit-down protest on Westminster Bridge in central London, blocking all lanes of traffic in the direction of St. Thomas’ Hospital.
The activists held signs which read: “Stop breaking hearts, be part of a plant-based future.”
In footage posted on social media, a policeman can be seen kneeling down to talk with one of the members of Animal Rebellion, a sister movement of the far-left Extinction Rebellion group, which caused misery across London last year with large-scale hours-long roadblocks.
When one distressed driver took matters into his own hands and began to drag one of the protesters toward the sidewalk, the police officer quickly intervened to tackle the man and restrain him. Two police officers can then be seen remonstrating with the driver to which he replies, “Well clear the road then!”
Later on Tuesday, the Metropolitan Police published a tweet to confirm the driver had been arrested for assault.
“A man who today assaulted a protester on Westminster Bridge by dragging them off the road was arrested for assault and is being investigated. The officer intervened to prevent any harm. We won’t tolerate any form of violence or abuse and will robustly tackle such offenses,” the tweet read.
London police also confirmed the five protesters were eventually cleared from the road an hour after the incident and were subsequently arrested for obstruction of the highway.
Members of the public expressed their anger toward the police for arresting the frustrated driver.
“Well do the job you are paid to do, then the public won’t have to help!” tweeted broadcaster Paula London.
“Eco-zealots block Westminster Bridge, man just trying to get to work tries to move one of them and cops arrest him for assault. Unbelievable!” added Daily Mail columnist Amanda Platell.
Journalist Andrew Pierce said it is “no wonder public faith in police has collapsed. They’re too often on the side of the criminal not the victim.”
“If the police would have done their job instead of babysitting them, the public wouldn’t have to get involved. This is how violence starts,” added GB News broadcaster Sophie Corcoran.
David Videcette, a former counter-terror detective at Scotland Yard, however, said members of the public need to be more careful in how they approach roadblocks by activists, an issue that has become increasingly more commonplace across Britain in recent years.
“I understand the frustration at those who block the roads, inconvenience others, and ruin their day. But you have to be very careful how you, as members of the public, deal with these protests. There are a myriad of legal issues to navigate, even for police,” he tweeted.