Russell Brand joined thousands of anti-capitalist protesters gathered in central London last night, as part of the annual global Million Masks March organised by the Anonymous network.
Banners and placards in hand, protesters descended on Trafalgar Square before marching towards Parliament Square at 6.30pm.
Despite an earlier warning from Scotland Yard to Anonymous that it had powers to remove facial coverings ahead of the march, many wore the Guy Fawkes masks which have become the group’s signature.
The masks became a symbol of civil disobedience following the 2006 film V for Vendetta, based on the comic book of the same name. The movie depicted a totalitarian vision of Britain, where protesters donned Guy Fawkes masks and gathered on 5 November to rally against their oppressors.
On the protest route in London, demonstrators chanted anti-establishment slogans as they walked.
There was a heavy police presence at both Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square, as well as along Whitehall, following a plea from Scotland Yard earlier today that activists co-operate with officers.
Despite a chorus of boos and whistles as an officer from the Metropolitan Police warned protesters about their behaviour over a loud hailer, the protest began peacefully.
Later, some marchers left Parliament Square for Buckingham Palace, with some kicking and dragging security railings on the way as the chanted "one solution, revolution." As they neared the Palace, they were confronted with a large police presence and plastic cones and road signs were thrown at officers who had their batons drawn.
The mood then calmed, with many protesters sitting down in front of the police, before they moved off again.
Throughout the evening, protesters showcased their banners and masks on social media.
Anonymous, which describes itself as a “movement” with an “undefined and fluid” leadership, said demonstrators were protesting against austerity, infringement of rights and mass surveillance. It added that this year’s protest would have “bigger banners, louder voices, more people and a louder system”.
Steve Foster, a 36-year-old storeman from Liverpool, came to the capital to attend the event.
“The inquiry into institutional paedophilia is probably the main reason (why I am here),” he told reporters.
"I am actually a victim myself, though not institutionally, when I was a kid.
"I want to see a real inquiry and I want to see prosecutions and people jailed in the establishment, where we all know it is rife. That is my biggest reason."
Asked about the nature of the protest, he said: "I think everyone wants it to go peacefully really, just a peaceful demonstration."
The Metropolitan Police said in a statement they had attempted to contact organisers of the event ”without success“ and added that they have imposed an order across Westminster between 5pm yesterday and 2am today which provides powers to remove masks when police fear a crime will be committed.
Additional reporting by PAReuse content