Saturday's London protests see 113 people arrested as police condemn 'hooliganism'

14 June 2020, 15:51

Twenty-three police officers were injured in violent clashes as several hundred demonstrators attended the protest
Twenty-three police officers were injured in violent clashes as several hundred demonstrators attended the protest. Picture: PA

By Matt Drake

More than 100 people were arrested on Saturday after attending protests in opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement in London.

A total of 113 people were arrested at the demonstration, which was condemned by Boris Johnson as "racist thuggery" and described as "mindless hooliganism" by police.

The arrests in London were for offences including breach of the peace, violent disorder, assault on officers, possession of an offensive weapon, possession of class A drugs and being drunk and disorderly.

A 28-year-old was arrested on suspicion of outraging public decency after a man was photographed apparently urinating next to the memorial dedicated to Pc Keith Palmer, the officer who was stabbed to death in the 2017 terror attack in Westminster.

Twenty-three police officers were injured in violent clashes as several hundred demonstrators attended the protest organised by groups who claimed they wanted to protect statues, such as that of Churchill, from vandalism.

But the demonstration turned violent after hundreds of self-proclaimed "statue defenders" took over areas near the Houses of Parliament and Trafalgar Square and hurled missiles, smoke grenades, glass bottles and flares at police officers.

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said he was "extremely disturbed" by the "completely unacceptable" scenes of violence on the streets on Saturday.

He said Mr Johnson needs to set out "concrete steps" to address "the inequality and racism that still sadly exists in our country."

The Torfaen Labour MP told Sky News' Sophy Ridge On Sunday show: "The Government needs to show leadership on the inequality and racism that still sadly exists in our country, and by that I mean the Prime Minister.

"The Prime Minister needs to come forward, show that he understands the hurt and the anguish of the stories that black people in our country have spoken about so movingly in recent weeks, and also to set out the concrete steps that his Government now intends to take to address that."

Mr Thomas-Symonds also said there has been a "chronic failure of political leadership" by the Government in addressing the Windrush scandal.

"In its first year of operation, it has only compensated 60 people to a total of £360,000.

"Now, of course, I'm pleased for those 60 people, but we're talking about thousands of people who were wronged over generations.

"That such a small number has been compensated - only that number - is a chronic failure of political leadership. The Government needs to focus, it needs to step up to the plate and it needs to act," he said.

Mr Thomas-Symonds also said he would back the Government in creating a specific offence against damaging war memorials and that he would work cross-party to support such efforts in Parliament.

Meanwhile, shadow justice secretary David Lammy said Mr Johnson's tweets about the Churchill statue were a "deflection".

In a series of eight tweets on Friday, Mr Johnson said to take statues down would be to "lie about our history".

He tweeted: "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."

Commander Bas Javid, of the Metropolitan Police, said: "The scenes officers encountered across central London yesterday were utterly shocking. Once again, they were pelted with missiles, or challenged by groups of men intent on violence.

"Mindless hooliganism such as this is totally unacceptable and I am pleased arrests were made. We will now work closely with the courts in pursuit of justice."

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