Boris Johnson urges BLM protesters to stay away from demonstrations this weekend

12 June 2020, 13:08

The prime minister has urged people to stay away from protesting this weekend
The prime minister has urged people to stay away from protesting this weekend. Picture: PA
Rachael Kennedy

By Rachael Kennedy

Boris Johnson says Black Lives Matter protests have been "hijacked by extremists intent on violence" as he urged people to avoid marching this weekend.

The prime minister said violence against police at earlier demonstrations had been "intolerable" and "abhorrent", and that he found it "absurd" the statue of former prime minister Winston Churchill had been boarded up to protect it.

"It is absurd and shameful that this national monument should today be at risk of attack by violent protestors," Mr Johnson said in a series of tweets.

"Yes, he sometimes expressed opinions that were and are unacceptable to us today, but he was a hero, and he fully deserves his memorial."

His comments come ahead of another planned weekend of anti-racism demonstrations in London that are feared will turn violent as members of far-right groups are expected to make a counter-appearance.

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 protests.

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

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

READ MORE: 'Extreme far-right' don't need to come to London to protect statues

"We all understand the legitimate feelings of outrage at what happened in Minnesota and the legitimate desire to protest against discrimination," Mr Johnson added in response to the protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.

"Whatever progress this country has made in fighting racism - and it has been huge - we all recognise that there is much more work to do.

"But it is clear that the protests have been sadly hijacked by extremists intent on violence.

"The attacks on the police and indiscriminate acts of violence which we have witnessed over the last week are intolerable and they are abhorrent.

"The only responsible course of action is to stay away from these protests."

Sadiq Khan asks people not to protest due to safety concerns

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has also urged people to avoid protesting this weekend, telling LBC that extreme far-right figures may have said they want to protect statues, but that they were actually going for "violence and disorder".

He urged people not to "fall into the trap" set by these groups, stressing his concern of their sowing "division and hatred" among the crowd.

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