Missiles and a metal crowd-control barrier were thrown at police as counter-demonstrators stormed officers trying to control crowds at a Remembrance event at the Cenotaph on Saturday afternoon.
And a man was arrested on suspicion of possessing a weapon during earlier skirmishes in Chinatown where English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson was seen leading a crowd of far-right activists.
Elsewhere, hundreds of football hooligans chanting “West Ham til I die” clashed with around 50 Met officers wearing riot helmets, protective gloves and yellow jackets as they tried to prevent the crowd from heading south across Westminster Bridge.
The crowd of men surged forward on two occasions, trying to break through the police, but were held back. As they pushed together, they threw beer cans and vapes, while waving red smoke flares. Cries of “I’m English til I die” could be heard.
Police said they were reviewing footage to identify and arrest those involved the disorder as the force said they had so far arrested more than 90 protesters not linked to the pro-Palestine rally that went off without incident.
The Met Police condemned the “unacceptable violence” faced by its officers.
Who are the far-right groups who issued calls to attend?
English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson and the Democratic Football Lads Alliance were among at least four groups to have issued calls to “defend” the Cenotaph this weekend after the Metropolitan Police confirmed a controversial march calling for a ceasefire in Gaza will be allowed to go ahead.
In screenshots posted on social media ahead of the event, football supporters in an 1,000-strong Whatsapp group vowed they were “prepared to go to prison” at the event.
Another warned it was “bashing time” while a third claimed it was “do or die now is the time” in a slew of racist messages in screenshots shared by anti-fascist investigators Red Flare, who said they believed a “significant number” of far-right supporters were planning to travel to the capital.
More than 2,000 officers with extra powers to search for weapons were drafted in to cover Remembrance weekend events, amid fears far-right groups could clash with hundreds of thousands of pro-Palestine supporters who marched from Hyde Park to the US embassy on Saturday.
Mr Robinson, who real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, was spotted near the Cenotaph ahead of the two minutes’ silence before later leading counter protesters through Chinatown where scuffles happened with police. In a video message shared on his recently reinstated account on X, former Twitter where he has nearly 375,000 followers, he called for people to turn up in London to show there is a “resistance” and that “the silent majority have had enough” on our “sacred day”.
In a further video he said people going to central London must behave with “respect” but should be “prepared to defend if we need to defend”.
Right-wing pressure group Turning Point UK, which has more than 66,000 followers on X, had also vowed to “stand up for fallen British heroes”. They urged supporters to join them at the Cenotaph, adding: “Don’t let them hijack Armistice Day.”
Active Patriot, a right-wing social media account with almost 100,000 followers, posted ahead of the event: “Trafalgar Square 10am spread the word 11/11/11 we WILL remember them.”
The Democratic Football Lads Alliance, which has been accused of spreading Islamophobia, called for supporters to stand “shoulder to shoulder with our veterans that fought for our freedom” in a gathering on Remembrance Sunday.
Anti-fascism group Hope Not Hate said it had already reported thugs to counter terror police after they have seen a surge in racism and violent threats in closed far-right Whatsapp groups.
They fear the fact there is no clear leader or main organiser could make the right-wing counter protesters harder to police.
“It’s quite a rag tag group of people – we are not sure what kind of numbers they might drum up. We don’t think it will the scale that the EDL could reach a couple of years ago,” a spokesman told The Independent.
“But even in small numbers they could cause a big problem. They will be meeting in pubs and will be drinking beforehand. There is a real danger from these groups tomorrow.
“These groups are difficult to control and could head towards the march, even though they are saying they are going to protect the Cenotaph.”
Speaking ahead of the march, Alan Jones, of Red Flare, feared that London could see a “significant mobilisation” with hundreds, rather than dozens, of football supporters flocking to capital.
“I think the risk, particularly with the football hooligan milieu is that you are talking about that are quite familiar with pretty serious violence. They basically just want to have a fight and this provides the perfect pretext for that,” he told The Independent.
He thinks the greatest risk will be in the evening which could see groups clashing on the journey home. “It’s quite difficult to predict what is going to happen,” he added.
The fears come after counter terror police confirmed they were investigating a faked video of Sadiq Khan in which the London mayor appeared to suggest Remembrance weekend events would be pushed back by a week so pro-Palestinian marches can go ahead.
The AI-generated video has been seen on X 138,000 times, where it has been shared by far-right accounts to stoke anger against Mr Khan.
A spokesman for the mayor said: “The Met and their counter terror experts are aware of this fake video that is being circulated and amplified on social media by far-right groups, and are actively investigating.”
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor, who is leading the “vast” police operation over the Remembrance weekend, warned on Friday that it was likely the police would have to use force and he expects to see “pockets of confrontation”.