29 arrests at anti-racism protests in London - as thousands demonstrate again today

7 June 2020, 08:24

By Asher McShane

A total of 29 people were arrested in clashes between protesters and police at an anti-racism protest in London yesterday.

Scotland Yard said today that 14 officers were injured, two seriously.

An officer from the Met’s Mounted Branch fell from her horse and was taken to hospital where she underwent surgery.

She remains in hospital in a stable condition with non life-threatening injuries.

It comes as further anti-racism protests were taking place across the UK later today following the death of George Floyd in the US.

Black Lives Matter protests were under way outside the US embassy in central London, with further action in Bristol, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Thousands of demonstrators defied social distancing rules yesterday and there were clashes outside Downing Street.

Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, Cressida Dick, said in a statement this morning: “I am deeply saddened and depressed that a minority of protesters became violent towards officers in central London yesterday evening.

"We have made a number of arrests and justice will follow. The number of assaults is shocking and completely unacceptable.

“I know many who were seeking to make their voices heard will be as appalled as I am by those scenes. There is no place for violence in our city. Officers displayed extreme patience and professionalism throughout a long and difficult day, and I thank them for that.

“I would urge protesters to please find another way to make your views heard which does not involve coming out on the streets of London, risking yourself, your families and officers as we continue to face this deadly virus.”

Black Lives Matter protesters in London yesterday
Black Lives Matter protesters in London yesterday. Picture: PA

The circumstances of what caused the clash to break out are under investigation, police said.

Superintendent Jo Edwards said: “We understand peoples’ passion to come and let their voice be heard, they protested largely without incident.

“Our officers have been professional and very restrained but there was a smaller group intent on violence towards police officers."

There were arrests for assault on police, criminal damage, making threats and calling for violence and an incident of dangerous driving near the US Embassy.

Tensions flared between police and protesters after missiles were thrown in the direction of officers.

Both plastic and glass bottles were thrown towards police, who attempted to push the crowd away from Downing Street and down Whitehall.

Members of the crowd also began to argue amongst themselves, as one protester began shouting and urging others not to throw bottles.

Shortly afterwards, another group of officers wearing helmets descended on Whitehall from the direction of Parliament Square.

Graffiti was been daubed on buildings on Whitehall, including the Cabinet Office.

A small "BLM" motif has been painted on the Cenotaph in black paint, while cardboard placards have been propped up on the war memorial's steps.

There was also a minor scuffle at the US Embassy as police attempted to disperse the crowd gathered there.

It comes after a largely peaceful demonstration, which started earlier on Saturday afternoon in Parliament Square.

A crowd gathered at 1pm, brandishing placards and chanting.

The majority of the demonstrators were wearing masks and face coverings, with some also opting for gloves.

Placards carried by demonstrators referenced the coronavirus crisis, with one that said: "There is a virus greater than Covid-19 and it's called racism."

Many other signs said "black lives matter" and "no justice, no peace".

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan praised those who protested peacefully on Saturday but said people who became violent "let down the cause".

He said: "To the thousands of Londoners who protested peacefully today, I stand with you and I share your anger and your pain.

"George Floyd's brutal killing must be a catalyst for change worldwide."

He added: "No country, city, police service or institution can absolve itself of the responsibility to do better.