Boat Race Spectators Cleared from Chiswick Bridge Due to Protest

Two men arrested after attaching themselves to wall

Police arrest two men on Chiswick Bridge
Police arrest two men on Chiswick Bridge. Picture: Youth Demand

March 31, 2024

A number of spectators hoping to see the Boat Race were forced to give up prime viewing positions after police swooped on protestors on Chiswick Bridge.

Two men had attached themselves with cable ties to the bridge this Saturday (30 March) ahead of the arrival of the Oxford and Cambridge crews in the men’s race. They had also draped a banner over the side of the bridge.

Around twenty police officers arrived at the scene and arrested two people funder section 1 of the Public Order Act 2023. Two other people were arrested for being equipped to lock on under section 2 of the Public Order Act 2023 near the river. Police dispersal powers were used to ensure that the race concluded without any interruption but people who had arrived early to secure a good view of the race were furious at having lost their vantage point.

The police say that the had received information that protestors were intending to interrupt the annual men’s and women’s Boat Race.

A spokesperson for the Met said, “Acting on this information, officers took swift action and were able to intervene and prevent protestors from disrupting the event.”

The two men attached to the bridge wall. Picture: Youth Demand

Responsibility for the protest was claimed by a group called Youth Demand. A spokeswoman for the group, who was on the bridge at the time of the protest, said, “We’re here protesting because the UK government continues to fund Israeli weapons with our taxpayers’ money. That means that all of us here are complicit in the UK government funding bombs that are dropping right now, this very second on Gazan children’s homes.”

There was a large police presence along the route of the Boat Race despite officers also being needed at a several football matches and a planned march by the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC), as well as a pro-Israel counter-protest, both in central London. In 2012 the Boat Race had been halted when Trenton Oldfield jumped into the water in a protest about elitism.

A banner was draped over the side of the bridge during the protest. Picture: Met Police

Officers also arrested a number of people at the protests, including for hate crime, public order and terrorism offences.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Andy Valentine, who is overseeing policing across London for the Easter weekend, said, “As expected, London has been extremely busy today, with police officers working hard to ensure major events could take place safely, as well as officers policing their local communities right across the Capital.

“I have been clear in my intention for this weekend that we will not tolerate anyone who is intent on carrying out criminality or causing any form of disorder or anti-social behaviour. We have made arrests for a variety of offences with the prospect of further arrests to come as a result of ongoing enquiries.

“Swift and decisive action by officers also ensured that the annual Boat Race was not disrupted for spectators at home and abroad.

“I’d like to thank the officers, both from the Met and other forces for their hard work as they continue to keep London safe across the Easter weekend.”


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