Police were called to the unauthorised gathering Saturday afternoon, and video footage online shows police officers detaining a number of men who were seen to be breaking lockdown restrictions. In the video a number of protestors are wrestled to the ground before being put in handcuffs and then being lead away.
Large groups of protestors marched around Basildon town centre with placards and were said to have been chanting ‘freedom’ as they took to the streets.
Essex Police said seven fines were issued and a number of police officers reported being assaulted but their injuries were said to be minor.
Watch: Eight exceptions for going outside during England's second national lockdown
Leader of Basildon Council, Cllr Gavin Callaghan called the protestors ‘idiotic’ and said in a tweet: “Thanks to @EssexPoliceUK for policing today’s anti-COVID “protest”.
“Police officers and their families have been put in totally avoidable danger thanks to the idiotic protestors taking to our streets and causing trouble today. I hope the “protestors” have the book thrown at them.”
— Outsider Insight (Neil G) (@outsider63) November 21, 2020
Supt Bonnie Moore said: “This was a clear and blatant breach of the Government’s COVID-19 regulations and those who took part have risked their health and those of their loved ones through he spread of the virus.
”Our approach to the Government’s regulations has always been to try to engage with people, explain the regulations, and encourage them to do the right thing.
"Sadly, today that was not successful and we had to take enforcement action.
"A number of our officers involved today also reported being injured but, thankfully, their injuries are relatively minor.
"I know these are challenging times for everyone but we all have a responsibility to help keep each other safe.
"Having to deal with clear and blatant breaches of the regulations means having to take our officers away from dealing with other incidents and affects our ability to respond to other forms of crime.
"Most people across Essex are doing that and I thank you for it. It means we can spend more time doing what we do best – helping people, keeping people safe, and catching criminals."
A dispersal order remained in place until 12.30am today.
Demonstrators have gathered for rallies across England since the second national lockdown started on November 5, and 13 people were arrested at a protest in Liverpool last week.
The protests come as the Prime Minister is expected to tell MP’s that although national lockdown will end on December 2, England will return to a tougher version of the regional three tiers of coronavirus restrictions.
Current restrictions mean people should stay at home except for education, work, exercise, medical reasons, shopping for essentials, or to care for others.
Watch: England to enter strengthened three-tier system