Photo

Dodging Fireworks and Flares at London's Million Mask March

This year the V for Vendetta-inspired masked group met a stronger police presence on their annual Guy Fawkes anti-establishment protest.

by Sam Sargeant
06 November 2016, 9:27am

It's that time of year again, when people finish up their hand-painted placards, pull their V for Vendetta-inspired masks on and head out for the Million Mask March. Each year on the 5th of November, a load of people march against the establishment, meshing Anonymous' ethos with Guy Fawkes' attempted two fingers up to the Houses of Parliament.

Last year's march in London felt distinctly awkward to one of our writers, and this time around the protest pulled in a good number of people but seemed a bit directionless. On Thursday, the Met police announced they were going to place specific conditions on the march, and planned to disperse everyone by 9PM.

Things started off at 6PM in Trafalgar Square as people assembled, under a broad banner of speaking out against the government. There was a heavy police presence, with the Met restricting the march to a fairly tight rectangle between Parliament Square and Trafalgar Square in central London. After a while, with some people cracking open their tinnies and others participating in a few half-hearted chants, speakers were set up in Parliament Square.

Photographer Sam Sargeant was there, jumping over flying fire crackers and watching people dance by the speakers for a bit before they moved back to Nelson's Column. "No one know's where the fuck we're going innit?" Sam overheard someone say, as the protest fragmented here and there before police moved in a bit closer and starting making some of the 53 reported arrests from the evening.

"The government and the 1 percent have played their hand, now it is time to play ours," read the event's Facebook page beforehand. By about 10PM, when a massive group of police swooped into disperse the crowd for good, it wasn't clear whether that had been a complete success. But there's always next year.