Masked protesters take to the streets of London for annual Anonymous march

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Thousands of anarchist protesters wearing Guido Fawkes masks marched on the streets of central London on Sunday night.

The annual Million Mask March, where protesters wore the sylised mask popularised in the cult film V For Vendetta, saw Westminster grind to a virtual halt.

Groups of people chanted pro-civil liberty and anti-establishment slogans, while police maintained a heavy presence outside key locations such as Downing Street.

In previous years the march has seen ugly scenes when bloodied activists clashed with officers.

Fireworks were let off along the route from Trafalgar Square among the embankment beyond Parliament and College Green, but no major disturbances broke out. 

A protester in Trafalgar Square, London 

One protester scaled a lion sculpture at Trafalgar Square Credit: Dominic Lipinski /PA

The event, organised by the notorious hacking collective Anonymous, is held on November 5 every year.

Police imposed conditions on the march, limiting it to a three-hour period between 6pm and 9pm on a prescribed route between Trafalgar Square and Whitehall.

Protesters shouted “Tory scum” as they set off flares and fireworks around Trafalgar Square, Downing Street and the House of Parliament. 

One firework shot across the green by Parliament Square, in the direction of the statue of Winston Churchill. 

One protester was immediately arrested after lighting a flare outside parliament, and another for squaring up to police outside Downing Street.

Pubs along the route remained defiantly open as the Guy Fawkes masked crowd made their way past.

A protester in Trafalgar Square

A protester in Trafalgar Square Credit: Isabel Infantes/PA

Protester Mili Carnevale, 32, from Buenos Aires in Argentina, joined the crowds to protest with her partner Nano Pilota from Madrid. Wearing her Guy Fawkes mask, she said: “It’s definitely quieter than normal this year – there are not many of us here to protest against the establishment.”

Nano added: “It’s very calm. I’ve not seen any violence. I’m not sure why that is.”

Warnings were projected onto nearby buildings, informing marchers they would be arrested and prosecuted for breaching conditions set out by police.

Helicopters circled overhead and police had riot gear at the ready, should trouble flare.

A post on the event’s Facebook page ahead of the march, which warned activists that “police are not your friends”, read: “We have seen the abuses and malpractice of this government, and governments before it.

“We have seen the encroaching destruction of many civil liberties we hold dear, we have seen the pushes to make the internet yet another part of the surveillance state.

“We have seen the Government’s disregard for migrants, for the poor, the elderly and the disabled, we have seen the capital, profit and greed of the few put before the wellbeing of the many and we say enough is enough.”

It finishes: “The Government and the 1% have played their hand. Now it’s time to play ours. Expect us.”

But one police officer, who worked at last year’s march, described the attendance as “pitiful”.