Only two out of more than 40 people arrested for breach of the peace in Hackney during protests on Wednesday remained in custody today.
The total of 41 arrests outside the CLR James library, on Dalston Lane, were almost half of those made across London during the series of marches and protests stemming from the November 30 strikes.
The remaining 39, who were re-arrested for affray on Wednesday night at Stoke Newington police station, were released at 11am today.
The re-arrests at Stoke Newington police station came at the same time as a second splinter demonstration as 100 protesters, thought to be unrelated to the union pension dispute, gathered outside the police station to show support for those arrested that morning.
Gary Budden, 28, a Stoke Newington writer, described the protest as “peaceful”, and no further arrests were made.
“We lit some candles and talked to passers by about what had gone on in the morning. People from the local cafes came out and gave people tea.”
The original 41 morning arrests combined a road-block, kettle, and an alleged assault on a female PCSO. An EastLondonLines reporter at the CLR James Library kettle reported up to 50 officers with dog units on Dalston Lane. The protesters were contained for over three hours and then arrested “one by one” before being led on to coaches. They were then taken to police stations across the capital, some as far as Heathrow.
Despite the arrests, Scotland Yard said today the day of action was “a peaceful affair with participants exercising their right to protest”.
But the Yard added: “A small number of groups unconnected to the main march were intent on committing crime.”
Prime Minister David Cameron initially called the strike a “damp squib” during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday but he retracted the statement on Thursday morning, acknowledging that it was a “obviously a big strike,” but went on to say that it was ultimately futile.
Throughout the day, thousands of public sector employees and supporters from Hackney, Lewisham, Croydon and Tower Hamlets left their posts to join the protest against proposed cuts to their pensions. EastLondonLines blogged live from the event across London. An estimated 25,000 health workers, teachers, lecturers, civil servants, border agency staff and council employees marched across Central London from Lincoln’s Inn Fields to Victoria Embankment.
While the majority of strikers from the four boroughs chose to join the main protest, more people remained outside their places of work at picket lines.
One physiotherapist specialising in geriatric care, who was at the Lewisham Hospital picket said: “Physiotherapy is a very physically demanding job. It’s not possible to do this work at 68.”
A nurse from the same hospital added: “Can you imagine trying to restrain a mentally deranged patient at 68? It’s just not possible.”
Reported by Jane McCallion, Will Coldwell and Tabby Kinder.