Angry clash between police and protesters at London Black Lives Matter protest

3 June 2020, 17:38

Protesters clashed with police near No10
Protesters clashed with police near No10. Picture: Sky News

By Asher McShane

An angry clash broke out between police and protesters as thousands of Black Lives Matter protesters gathered at Downing Street.

A police officer was reportedly punched in the face and a large crowd hurled missiles towards officers at the gates of Downing Street.

One man appeared to jump over a barrier and confront officers before being pushed back to the crowd by police.

He was then wrestled to the ground before other protesters appeared to join in who were either also pushed back into the demonstration or taken to the ground by police.

Moments earlier, officers had taken the knee in solidarity with protesters, prompting applause.

The protests started peacefully with speeches and demonstrations as thousands of people gathered in Hyde Park to protest following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, who died after being knelt on by a police officer.

But the group later moved to Parliament Square before gathering outside No 10, where tensions rose, with one witness saying there was a "very volatile group at the centre of the crowd."

Another witness said things had "calmed down significantly" with a couple of people led away by police.

Protesters remained outside Downing Street chanting as a limited amount of traffic passed down Whitehall.

Many climbed onto the window ledges of a neighbouring building as others talked with a line of police outside the gates to the street.

More than a dozen officers were inside the gates of Downing Street, watching the protesters.

LBC's Matthew Thompson, who was at the scene, said the clash between protesters and police may have been "the moment of maximum danger" as there has since been a "slight calming" in the tensions.

He later reported that the protest was "simmering on the brink" following a period of calm.

A van parked nearby, as well as a building close to Number 10, were both vandalised with spray paint.

Later in the evening, a journalist was seen bleeding from the head after appearing to be struck by protesters who were chanting "F*** the Daily Mail!"

Despite some within the protest urging people to "please go home", others have remained out on the streets marching through Trafalgar Square.

Others were filmed taking a knee with police officers which drew big cheers from the crowd.

Further reports emerged of police having missiles thrown at them as they marched protesters through the city.

As the evening drew to a close, some individuals could be seen throwing barriers, bottle and traffic cones over the fences of Downing Street.

They were all hooded and did not appear to be surrounded by police officers.

It is unclear whether these individuals were connected to today's protest.

The clashes came as inside Downing Street, Boris Johnson said he was "sickened" by the death of Mr Floyd.

At the Downing Street press conference, the Prime Minister said: "We mourn George Floyd and I was appalled and sickened to see what happened to him.

"And my message to President Trump, to everybody in the United States from the UK is that I don't think racism - it's an opinion I'm sure is shared by the overwhelming majority of people around the world - racism, racist violence has no place in our society."

He said people had the right to protest but "I would urge people to protest peacefully, and in accordance with the rules on social distancing".

"Everybody's lives matter, black lives matter, but we must fight this virus, as well."

Earlier in the day, Star Wars actor John Boyega made an emotional speech in Hyde Park, telling a group of hundreds of fellow demonstrators he was "speaking to you from my heart".