The leader of an anti-monarchy group who was detained prior to a protest against King Charles III’s coronation has been released from police detention, according to the group.
Republic, which wants an elected head of state, announced late Saturday that its CEO Graham Smith had been released, some 16 hours after being imprisoned.
He was one of more than 50 people detained under new powers rushed into law by the UK government this week to crack down on direct action protests.
The Metropolitan Police in London has been chastised for the arrests, which included volunteers from a local women’s safety organization that the force supports.
Last month, the Daily Mail newspaper claimed that protesters were planning to throw rape alarms to spook horses taking part in the parade, which included military bands.
The newspaper also said climate change activists from the Just Stop Oil group were planning to disrupt the event.
Just Stop Oil members were among those picked up on Saturday.
Republic’s Smith, who last week told reporters he and other members had no plans to disrupt the procession. The protest went ahead, with opponents waving “Not My King” placards and booing.
“Make no mistake. There is no longer a right to peaceful protest in the UK,” Smith tweeted.
“I have been told many times the monarch is there to defend our freedoms. Now our freedoms are under attack in his name.”
Human rights groups likened the arrests to those in authoritarian states but police defended their tactics, claiming it was “proportionate… in line with relevant legislation” after public concern.
London has been repeatedly targeted in recent years by direct action groups.
Hardline interior minister Suella Braverman promised police more powers to stop protesters using “guerilla tactics”.