The Million Mask March turned violent this week when a group of protesters reportedly beat a young woman who was trying to protect a horse outside of London’s Buckingham Palace.
The annual protest coincides with Guy Fawkes Day, with protesters donning masks of the failed revolutionary and taking to the streets in an anti-capitalism demonstration. But, the event turned violent when demonstrators began throwing rocks and traffic cones at police. One of the protesters set off fireworks, which spooked a horse and caused it to buck the police officer who was riding.
— CNN (@CNN) November 6, 2015
That is when 20-year-old Daisy Greenaway, a student from the University of Westminster, stepped in to protect the animal. Greenaway said the crowd then turned on her.
“At Buckingham Palace it really took off. A horse ran past shortly followed by the officer who was previously riding him. People threw fireworks,” she told the Standard. “When I told them not to hurt horses they said ‘police horses don’t feel.’ “
Greenaway said the tensions continued when she refused to back down.
“I pulled one masked guy away from a horse who then tried to fight me,” she said. “He punched me and yelled sexist abuse for pushing him away from a frightened horse.”
The Million Mask March protest led to sporadic violence across London, with several nights of disturbances leading up to the protest itself, and more than 50 arrests during the demonstration.
— Sky News (@SkyNews) November 5, 2015
It could have been even more violent. Police said they intercepted a group of hardcore anarchists known as “Black Bloc” who were headed to Trafalgar Square. Authorities also arrested a group of three men carrying weapons and gas canisters.
Others were hurt during the Million Mask March protests, as well. One photographer broke his arm while taking pictures of protesters trying to destroy a $200,000 Aston Martin Vantage in Grosvenor Place when the driver sped away to escape the attack.
Commander BJ Harrington said police did an excellent job of keeping tensions under control and preventing further violence and destruction.
“I praise the professionalism and restraint that officers have shown in the face of hostile provocation and enabled the policing operation to pass without major incidents,” he said. “We will bring those responsible for the criminality to justice.”
Harrington added that the department is used to covering protests, and that the violence associated with the Million Mask March is out of the ordinary.
“We facilitate hundreds of protests every year in London peacefully and with the cooperation of the organisers. On this occasion a group of protesters chose not to engage with police or adhere to the conditions of the protest and were intent on criminality.
“I’d like to thank those who conducted themselves in a peaceful manner and as well as Londoners for their patience and tolerance whilst antisocial and intimidating behaviour was happening.”
Many protesters stand behind their cause, which aims to speak out, generally, against income inequality in the same way the Occupy movement did a few years ago.
“We tried for six years to get the press to take us seriously. It is only when we wore the masks that we started getting attention. Anyone who is violent is not with us,” said Aztecarna Peatonito, a Mexican national who described himself as an anarchist, in an interview with the Guardian.
Daisy Greenaway, the young woman who was reportedly attacked at the Million Mask March while protecting a police horse, was able to escape without major injury. Authorities said the horse was injured and had to be taken to its stable for medical treatment.
[Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images]