- British Home Secretary Priti Patel turned to Twitter to condemn the clashes
- The impositions by the police were aimed at preventing a repeat of last week’s violent clashes during anti-racist protests.
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned protests and threats to the Churchill statue as "absurd and shameful."
Police and protesters clashed Saturday afternoon in central London after huge crowds flooded the city, despite earlier warnings from the authorities to avoid the demonstrations. Moments of tension and conflict were witnessed between the police and the protesters, more so near the statue of Winston Churchill, which the demonstrators intended to demolish.
Episodes of conflicts were also reported in the vicinity of the Westminster Bridge and Parliament, with police officers being hit by glass bottles by the angry protesters. Following the confrontation, British Home Secretary Priti Patel turned to Twitter to condemn the clashes, while sharing a video from BBC News Home Affairs Correspondent Dominic Casciani.
“Throughly unacceptable thuggery. Any perpetrators of violence or vandalism should expect to face the full force of the law. Violence towards our police officers will not be tolerated. Coronavirus remains a threat to us all. Go home to stop the spread of this virus & save lives.”
The London Metropolitan Police imposed a time limit for the Saturday protests, demanding that the demonstrations must end at 17:00 local time. Limitations have also been imposed on the places where the protests were to take place in order to avoid confrontations between opposing groups— that is, the anti-racism protesters and those who came out to protect the city statues from being demolished.
The impositions by the police were aimed at preventing a repeat of last week’s violent clashes during anti-racist protests, following the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The isolated clashes on June 8 in London led to the injury of 35 policemen and the arrest of 36 demonstrators, as announced by the British Home Secretary.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned protests and threats to the Churchill statue as “absurd and shameful.” In a series of tweets, Johnson opined that, while “he sometimes expressed opinions that were and are unacceptable to us today,” he remains a hero, “and he fully deserves his memorial.”
“The statue of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square is a permanent reminder of his achievement in saving this country – and the whole of Europe – from a fascist and racist tyranny,” Johnson tweeted. “We cannot now try to edit or censor our past. We cannot pretend to have a different history. The statues in our cities and towns were put up by previous generations.”
Johnson also regretted that the demonstrations by the Black Lives Matter movement “have been sadly hijacked by extremists intent on violence.”
Far-right movements had announced their intention to focus this weekend around a statue of Churchill, where the words “was a racist” were written last weekend during anti-racist protests.
Last Sunday, a crowd knocked over and threw the statue of the 17th-century slave trader Edward Colston into the waters of Bristol Harbor. However, the monument has since been recovered by the municipality, which aims to place it in a museum.