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Fact check: Two men were not beaten to death by police at a London anti-vaccine and coronavirus protest

Posts on social media have falsely claimed that two men were killed by police at a protest in central London on Sept. 19, 2020.

People gather in Trafalgar Square to protest against the lockdown imposed by the government, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in London, Britain, September 19, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

At least one post (here) making the claim on Facebook includes two pictures of men lying on the floor at the demonstration, which was organised in protest at renewed restrictions to curb the new coronavirus and against mass vaccinations.

The caption alongside the pictures reads: “Reports of two deaths at Saturday anti-fascism rally, unconfirmed. 2 men were beaten unconscious by the fascist police. Crowds chanted ‘choose your side’ as police repeatedly tried to charge crowds, described by media as ‘anti-vaxx, flat-earthers’.”

Other posts did not include pictures, but still claimed a man had been killed “by a baton” to the head (here, here, here) .

None of these claims is accurate. No deaths were reported by authorities or the media at – or following – the protest in London on Sept. 19 (here) .

In the initial Facebook post claiming “reports of two deaths,” one of the photos included shows a man in a blue T-shirt lying on the floor (bit.ly/303MTDN) . Earlier footage captured from another angle shows the same man interacting with officers before they appear to move him to the ground (here , here). It is not clear what causes the commotion. He is then seen being carried away toward a convoy of police vans (here , 14:26 onwards), before later being filmed sitting up on a stretcher and talking to surrounding officers (here) .

The second photo in the Facebook post of a man on the floor (bit.ly/3cvvfOj) is a moment that was captured from several angles (here) . It is not clear what happened in the lead-up to this incident, but later photos show him being placed on a stretcher and loaded into an ambulance (here) .

The Metropolitan Police said in a Twitter statement a man was “taken unwell” as he was being arrested at the protest, and he was later taken to hospital. The Twitter statement said: “Officers attempted to speak with the man after a traffic cone was thrown towards them. The man ran from police but was detained. As he was being arrested, he became unwell. He was taken by the [London Ambulance Service] to a south London hospital for treatment and was subsequently released back into police custody.”

At the time of the statement, on Sept. 20, the Met said the same man was still in custody having been arrested on suspicion of assault on police and possession of Class A drugs. The Met also said the Directorate of Professional Standards had been informed “as is routine,” and a review of body camera footage would be carried out (here) .

The London Ambulance Service confirmed its teams had assessed three patients at the demonstration, with one eventually being sent to hospital.

VERDICT

False. There were no deaths reported by authorities or media at the protest in Trafalgar Square on Saturday. One man was sent to hospital after he was arrested but has since been released back into police custody.

Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here .

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