Sunday. 14.04.2024
BLACK LIVES MATTER

Police arrest 113 after 'shocking' violence during London protests

Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested that much of the violence came from the right-wing counterprotesters, who were separated from the Black Lives Matter protesters by barriers and police lines.
3 June 2020, England, London: A protester with blood on his face lies outside the Houses of Parliament during the right-wing movement Democratic Football Lads Alliance clash with a Black Lives Matter protest. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Wire/dpa
A protester lies outside the Houses of Parliament during the right-wing and Black Lives Matter protesters clash. Victoria Jones/PA Wire/dpa

A total of 113 arrests were made after thousands of Black Lives Matter and far-right protesters rallied in London on Saturday despite calls for them to stay away, the Metropolitan Police said on Sunday.

The police said the protesters, who were segregated, were largely peaceful with "pockets of violence directed towards officers."

Twenty-three police officers were injured, none seriously, as "protesters threw items at police or targeted them with violence," the force said.

"The scenes officers encountered across central London yesterday were utterly shocking," said Metropolitan Police Commander Bas Javid.

"Once again, they were pelted with missiles, or challenged by groups of men intent on violence," Javid said. "Mindless hooliganism such as this is totally unacceptable."

Those arrested were accused of offences including "violent disorder," assault on the police, possession of a weapon, possession of drugs and drunkenness.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested that much of the violence came from the right-wing counterprotesters, who were separated from the Black Lives Matter protesters by barriers and police lines.

"Racist thuggery has no place on our streets," Johnson tweeted.

"These marches and protests have been subverted by violence and breach current [coronavirus social distancing] guidelines," he said.

"Racism has no part in the UK and we must work together to make that a reality," Johnson added.

'Truly appalling act'

Those arrested included a 28-year-old white man accused of "outraging public decency" after he was photographed appearing to urinate next to a memorial to Keith Palmer, a police officer stabbed to death by a terrorist as he was guarding an entrance to the British parliament.

Home Secretary Priti Patel welcomed the arrest, tweeting that the suspect had committed "a truly appalling act."

Javid called the urination next to Palmer's memorial "disgusting and abhorrent."

"I feel for PC Palmer's family, friends and colleagues," he said.

Smaller protests were planned on Sunday after rallies in at least a dozen British towns and cities on Saturday, including Newcastle, Bristol, Chelmsford, Canterbury and Brighton, where an estimated 10,000-plus Black Lives Matters protesters marched along the seafront.

The protesters defied Johnson's call on Friday to end the movement. He claimed Black Lives Matter protests had been "hijacked by extremists intent on violence."

Bishop of Dover backed protests

The bishop of Dover, Rose Hudson-Wilkin, the Church of England's first black female bishop, backed Saturday's protests.

"We would have liked not to be gathering in a pandemic, but this is really important," Hudson-Wilkin told Black Lives Matter protesters in Canterbury in south-eastern England.

She urged people to "hold politicians to account" and change their own attitudes by "calling out" their friends' racism.

"We don't want platitudes [from politicians]. What we want is action, the kind of action that enables black people," Hudson-Wilkin said.

The Black Lives Matter protests, borne out of anger at the death of George Floyd while in US police custody, have repeatedly drawn huge crowds across Britain in recent weeks.

A fierce public debate has also erupted over damage to statues of historical figures linked to British slave-trading and imperialism.

The Democratic Football Lads' Alliance (DFLA), an umbrella group for far-right activists, has urged people to protect their heritage by guarding prominent statues in London and other cities.

Police arrest 113 after 'shocking' violence during London protests