As many as 19 animal rights activists were arrested on Saturday over their alleged plans to disrupt the Epsom Derby.

Animal Rising, an activist group, has repeatedly vowed to stop or delay the derby. Surrey police officers arrested eleven people at addresses in Mitcham and Byfleet. Eight were taken into custody after their vehicle stopped in Burgh Heath at around 10:20 AM on Saturday.

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The group had pledged to cancel or delay the race despite a High Court injunction that bans protests on the racetrack. All arrests were made on suspicion of conspiracy to commit public nuisance, the Surrey Police said.

Animal Rising had also disrupted the Grand National. Jockey Club, the owner of both the Epsom and Aintree racecourses, took legal action ahead of the weekend’s race arguing that such protests “compromise the safety of equine and human participants and all racegoers”.

High Court judge Sir Anthony Mann granted an injunction. He said that ‘activists who disrupted the event could be subject to proceedings for contempt of court, which may lead to a fine and/or imprisonment’.

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“Our number one priority will always be to ensure that the safety of all our equine and human participants and racegoers, officials and our own employees is not compromised. Everyone should have the right to peaceful protest and we have offered Animal Rising an area near the entrance of Epsom Downs Racecourse to express their views in a law-abiding way,” a Jockey executive told The Express.

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What is Animal Rising?

Animal Rising is an activist group founded in 2019. It was formerly known as Animal Rebellion.

The group uses graffiti, destruction of property, blockading and preventing food distribution, trespassing onto livestock industry premises, and blockading streets to protest. Their website states that the movement in non-violent.