Anonymous’ Million Mask March in London descends into violence

Published 8:17 AM EST, Fri November 6, 2015

Story highlights

Three police officers hospitalized after violence in anti-capitalist march in London

The march, organized by hacker collective Anonymous, led to 50 arrests, police said

Police: Police car burned, six police horses injured and three arrested on weapons charges

(CNN) —  

A Million Mask March through central London organized by hacker collective Anonymous erupted in violent scenes Thursday night, with three police officers taken to the hospital, a police car set ablaze and 50 people arrested, police said.

In a statement, Metropolitan Police commander BJ Harrington condemned the violence as “completely unacceptable” and praised his officers for their restraint “in the face of hostile provocation.” Six police horses were also injured.

About 2,000 police officers were called into action, with mounted officers forming a barrier against a densely packed crowd on The Mall.

Who is Anonymous? Everyone and no one

The march was held on Guy Fawkes Night, an annual commemoration in the UK of a failed plot to kill King James I in 1605. It’s usually celebrated with bonfires and fireworks. Many of the protesters wore stylized Guy Fawkes masks adopted by the Anonymous movement and lit fireworks as the march passed by the British capital’s landmarks.

The protest’s anti-capitalist theme was outlined in a YouTube video promoting the event, which it promised would be “the biggest global protest in the history of the world.”

“There is no reason a select few can acquire so much while the majority suffers when we have the technology that would let every man, woman and child on Earth life better than the 1%,” the video said. “Installing a humanitarian-based, open-source government will ensure equality for all.”

Weapons charges

Police said the majority of the arrests were for public order offenses, with 48 remaining in custody Friday. The officers who were admitted to the hospital have been discharged, police said Friday.

One man was charged and another cautioned for assaulting police, while three men were arrested ahead of the march after police allegedly found them with knives, smoke and paint grenades, gas canisters and lock picks. The three men, ages 38, 55 and 50, were held at a central London police station on suspicion of being in possession of offensive weapons.

During the march, police used a laser to beam a message on the side of the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, warning protesters that police may require them to remove their masks. “Failure to comply is an offense,” it read.

Footage circulated on social media showed protesters, away from the main rally, smashing the windshield of a burning police car.

In another clip, marchers surrounded a white sports car as they chanted, “Our streets, our streets.” The car accelerated through the group, knocking over one of the protesters.

CNN has not been able to confirm any of the details surrounding the incident.

CNN’s Will Heilpern contributed to this report.