Boris Johnson urges BLM protesters to stay away from demonstrations this weekend
12 June 2020, 13:08 | Updated: 12 June 2020, 16:06
Boris Johnson says Black Lives Matter protests have been "hijacked by extremists intent on violence" as he urged people to avoid marching this weekend.
The prime minister said violence against police at earlier demonstrations had been "intolerable" and "abhorrent", and that he found it "absurd" the statue of former prime minister Winston Churchill had been boarded up to protect it.
"It is absurd and shameful that this national monument should today be at risk of attack by violent protestors," Mr Johnson said in a series of tweets.
"Yes, he sometimes expressed opinions that were and are unacceptable to us today, but he was 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. 1/8— Boris Johnson #StayAlert (@BorisJohnson) June 12, 2020
His comments come ahead of another planned weekend of anti-racism demonstrations in London that are feared will turn violent as members of far-right groups are expected to make a counter-appearance.
Groups such as the Democratic Football Lads Alliance said they would be travelling to the capital to protect the city's monuments after some were vandalised in recent protests.
Former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson has also given his support to the action.
"We all understand the legitimate feelings of outrage at what happened in Minnesota and the legitimate desire to protest against discrimination," Mr Johnson added in response to the protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.
"Whatever progress this country has made in fighting racism - and it has been huge - we all recognise that there is much more work to do.
"But it is clear that the protests have been sadly hijacked by extremists intent on violence.
"The attacks on the police and indiscriminate acts of violence which we have witnessed over the last week are intolerable and they are abhorrent.
"The only responsible course of action is to stay away from these protests."
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has also urged people to avoid protesting this weekend, telling LBC that extreme far-right figures may have said they want to protect statues, but that they were actually going for "violence and disorder".
He urged people not to "fall into the trap" set by these groups, stressing his concern of their sowing "division and hatred" among the crowd.
"I support those who are keen to ensure that everyone understands that Black Lives Matter, but also I am extremely worried," he said.