BLM protesters warned not to 'fall into trap' set by extreme far-right in London this weekend

12 June 2020, 11:29

Sadiq Khan has pleaded with protesters to stay home at the weekend
Sadiq Khan has pleaded with protesters to stay home at the weekend. Picture: PA
Rachael Kennedy

By Rachael Kennedy

Black Lives Matter protesters taking part in demonstrations this weekend have been warned not to "fall into the trap" set by the extreme far-right, who also plan to make an appearance.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan told LBC's James O'Brien that he feared "violence, vandalism and disorder" would break out if "all sides turn up" to a scheduled protest on Saturday.

The extreme far-right want to sow "division and hatred," Mr Khan said as he pleaded for protesters to stay home.

"I support those who are keen to ensure that everyone understands that Black Lives Matter, but also I am extremely worried."

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His comments come after 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 demonstrations.

Former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson has also given his support to the action.

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But Mr Khan said it's not really about looking after statues, warning that it was really "about them being there to get involved in violence and disorder".

He added: "They're talking about protecting statues but they're also talking about taking on Black Lives Matter and I'm really keen to avoid either criminal damage, statues being damaged, graffiti, but also the violence and disorder."

The mayor also went on to ask how protesters would feel if the far-right "got all the attention" because of violent behaviour, which could lead to "diverted attention away from the really important issue that you're campaigning about."

Discussion has focused on statues around the country since a protest last weekend in Bristol saw the toppling of Edward Colston - a 17th century figure celebrated for his philanthropy but condemned for making his wealth through slavery.

It has led to fierce debate about how the UK memorialises people who may have helped shaped British history, but also have deeply troubling and racist pasts.

As a result, the mayor has also responded to the issue by announcing a commission that will analyse statues and monuments around the capital to ensure they represent London's diversity, and its achievements.