Two people have been arrested after police banned hundreds of pro-Palestine protesters from holding a sit-in at London’s Kings Cross station.
In a rare intervention, Transport Secretary Mark Harper stepped in to give British Transport Police the power to arrest campaigners under the Public Order Act over fears the protest could cause travel chaos.
Videos circulating on social media show activists chanting “ceasefire now” as they wave Palestinian flags inside the station. One video showed a man carried away by three officers as he continued to shout “Free Palestine”.
British Transport Police warned officers would be making arrests as the sit-in risked causing “serious disruption” to rail services. Police later said the demonstration had ended and travellers could enter the station as normal without delays to services.
We are aware of a group gathering at Kings Cross Station, our officers are informing them of the prohibition order in place and advising them to leave.
The prohibition covers the entirety of Kings Cross Station as outlined in the red area in the below map. pic.twitter.com/ojEZAFgZoy
— British Transport Police (@BTP) November 3, 2023
Mr Harper said: “While the right to peaceful protest is a key part of our democratic society, it cannot be at the expense of other people’s right not to be seriously disrupted or intimidated.
“That’s why I have granted consent for the British Transport Police to make an order under Section 14A of the Public Order Act 1986 prohibiting the planned protest at Kings Cross Station this evening. This means protest activity at the station is classified as unlawful and anyone taking part will be subject to arrest.
“Officers must have the powers they need for our stations to remain safe places for people to go about their journeys, protecting public safety and preventing disorder.”
NEW: Huge sit in at King’s Cross station in London calling for a ceasefire and a stop to the bombing of Gaza! 🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸 pic.twitter.com/zPnnSsgEKN
— Lukas Slothuus (@lslothuus) November 3, 2023
BTP said in a statement: “British Transport Police made two arrests at King’s Cross station this evening for failure to comply with a section 14 notice.
“There is now a small demonstration taking place outside the station in King’s Cross square.
“The demonstration inside the station has ended. Passengers can access the station as normal and trains are not disrupted.”
The action comes just days after 500 activists staged a similar sit-in at Liverpool Street Station at around 5.30pm on Tuesday to demand an immediate ceasefire to Israel’s attacks on Gaza and an end to arms exports to Israel.
On the day of the protest, 9,227 Palestinians have been killed, including 3,826 children, in Israeli strikes on Gaza since October 7, the health ministry in Hamas-controlled Gaza said on Friday.