London, Jun 3 (IANS): Surrey Police in the UK have arrested 19 activists in connection with plans to disrupt the Epsom Derby Festival on Saturday, a media report said.
The Animal Rising group accused the police of "abusing" their powers after the 19 were detained on Saturday morning, based on intelligence received by officers, The Guardian reported.
A spokesman for the force said that 11 people were arrested at addresses in Mitcham and Byfleet in the early hours and a further eight people were arrested after their vehicle was stopped on Canons Lane in Burgh Heath, not far from the racecourse, at around 10.20 a.m., the report added.
All were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit public nuisance and remain in police custody, Sky News reported.
Animal Rising had warned that protesters would attempt to disrupt the event, despite a High Court injunction.
"We are seeing an intensive policing operation to protect the interests of a multi-billion pound industry that the majority of the public, as a nation of animal lovers, recognise as cruel to horses," Dan Kidby, co-founder of Animal Rising, was quoted by Sky News as saying.
"A horse dies every other day in racing and billions of animals are killed every year in our food system. Animal Rising will not stop trying to bring these issues to the forefront of the public agenda and demand change," he added.
Surrey Police Superintendent Michael Hodder said: "We have been clear in our approach that criminal activity will not be tolerated at the Epsom Derby Festival. As a result of intelligence, we have arrested 19 people who we believe were intent on illegally disrupting today's events".
"Our officers will be at the event throughout the day to continue in keeping the public safe and preventing criminality," Hodder was quoted by Sky News as saying.