Clashes between protesters linked to the extreme right and police took place on Saturday in London on the sidelines for a rally against racism. The activists gathered around several statues such as Winston Churchill, humiliated several days ago.
Collisions broke out on Saturday afternoon, June 13, in central London, between police and law enforcement agencies claiming to “protect” monuments from vandalism by anti-racism activists.
Thousands of protesters, including right-wing activists, challenged assembly bans linked to the new coronavirus pandemic to find themselves near Parliament where the statue of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill had been demolished on the sidelines demonstrations against racism last weekend.
Bottles of water and jars were thrown at the police while some protesters sang “England”.
“Absolutely unacceptable violence”
After retweeting a video of protesters taking part in London police, Home Affairs Minister Priti Patel condemned a “totally unacceptable violence”.
Completely unacceptable thuggery.
All violators of violence or vandalism should expect to follow the full force of the law. Violence against our police will not be tolerated.
Coronavirus remains a threat to us all. Go home to stop the spread of this virus and save lives. https://t.co/HsOx9cgrqD
– Priti Patel (@pritipatel) June 13, 2020
She urged them to go home to stop the spread of the new coronavirus and “save lives” when Covid-19 disease has already killed more than 41,000 people in the country. “Obviously, extreme right groups are causing violence and transitions in central London,” Labor mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted, calling for “staying away” from the protests.
This is totally unacceptable. We will not tolerate attacks on our police and the perpetrators will feel the full force of the law.
It is obvious that right-wing groups are causing violence and disorder in central London, I urge people to stay away. https://t.co/ZImnvmfWeL
– Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) June 13, 2020
Although the Black Lives Matter movement interrupted a demonstration planned for Saturday afternoon in the capital city center, several hundred anti-racist activists gathered in Hyde Park before heading toward the city center. The British police asked them to disperse at 16 GMT to avoid the risk of clashes with right-wing activists. Counter-protesters came to “stand guard around our monuments,” said PA news agency Paul Golding, head of Britain First. “I’m really tired of the authorities permitting two weekends as a result of vandalism against our national monuments,” with particular reference to the statue of Winston Churchill.
The inscription “was a racist” had been tagged with the name of the conservative leader, accused of making racist remarks, especially against the Indians.
Other statues symbolizing the country’s colonial past have been targeted in the country, including slave trader Edward Colston, who was undamaged in Bristol. In London, the statues were protected by Nelson Mandela and Gandhi, close to Parliament, on Friday and Winston Churchills was protected in a metal box.
Winston Churchill’s grandson and former Conservative Minister Nicholas Soames condemned the “cowardly” actions of the perpetrators but said it was “extremely disgusting” to the idea that right-wing activists want to “stand guard” around the statue, he told The Telegraph on Saturday.
The interior minister has asked for the Churchill statue to be seen again. “We should release Churchill, a hero in our nation who fought fascism and racism in this country and in Europe,” she told the Daily Mail on Saturday.
Other anti-racism rallies took place in the country on Saturday, for example in Brighton on the English south coast and Liverpool in the north.