Far-right activists and Black Lives Matter protesters clash in London
Black Lives Matter (BLM) and far-right protesters clashed in London Saturday, with authorities attempting to keep both sides separated during demonstrations.
The protests erupted in Trafalgar Square, as protesters tossed cans, bottles and shot fireworks, all while riot police used dogs and horses to keep the demonstrations from escalating, according to Reuters.
Far-right demonstrators reportedly shouted racial slurs at BLM and anti-racist protesters, while some far-right supporters reportedly attempted to use metal crash barriers to tear through police lines.
Demonstrations against police brutality and racial injustice around the world was set off after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in Minneapolis police custody last month after a former officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes.
“It is clear that far-right groups are causing violence and disorder in central London, I urge people to stay away,” London Mayor Sadiq Khan said on Twitter.
Priti Patel, interior minister for the U.K., denounced the behavior of any “thoroughly unacceptable thuggery” and warned perpetrators of violence or destruction would face punishment to the fullest extent of the law.
The far-right presence at the rallies Saturday was allegedly due partially to backlash over last weekend’s toppling of a 17th-century slave trader statue in Bristol, U.K., which sparked outrage from some about the removal of the monument.
A statue of Winston Churchill was also graffitied last weekend with the text on the monument reading. “Churchill was a racist.”
Churchill has been widely championed for his leadership as Prime Minister in the defeat of Nazi Germany during WWII. However, he has been called out by some in the anti-racist movement for his expressions of racist and anti-Semitic positions.
On Saturday, some far-right protesters appeared in defense of the Churchill statue, which was boarded up in preparation of some anti-racist protesters allegedly planning to defame the monument further.
On Friday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was “absurd and shameful” that the Churchill statue was at risk of attack. “Yes, he sometimes expressed opinions that were and are unacceptable to us today, but he was a hero,” he said.
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