Two police among 15 injured during clashes at demonstration in London

13 June 2020, 17:40

Protesters in London have clashed with police near The Cenotaph
Protesters in London have clashed with police near The Cenotaph. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Police and protesters have clashed in London as tensions flared at a demonstrations which started near the Cenotaph war memorial.

A group of demonstrators wishing to protect London's statues from being defaced or toppled confronted the police as protests were taking place across the UK.

The protesters were given a 5pm deadline to move on and other, smaller confrontations appeared to be breaking out as the day went on.

The London Ambulance service said 15 patients were treated, including two police officers, for injuries at the protests this afternoon. Six of the patients, all members of the public, were taken to hospital.

As of 5pm, five people had been arrested for offences including violent disorder, assault on police, possession of an offensive weapon, being drunk and disorderly and possession of Class A drugs, Scotland Yard said.

Video footage shared by Home Secretary Priti Patel shows bottles and other objects being thrown at officers around midday today as protesters and police came up against one another at barriers in central London.

The Cabinet minister condemned any violence towards the police, branding it "thoroughly unacceptable thuggery".

She wrote: "Any perpetrators of violence or vandalism should expect to face the full force of the law. Violence towards our police officers will not be tolerated.

The home secretary also urged all those protesting today to return home in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus and to save lives.

LIVE updates: Tensions flare as protesters gather in Westminster

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan called the scenes on the capital "totally unacceptable".

"We will not tolerate attacks on our police and perpetrators will feel the full force of the law.

"It is clear that far-right groups are causing violence and disorder in central London, I urge people to stay away."

Large numbers of people from rival groups threw bottles and fireworks at each other as officers attempted to get the situation under control.

Some people could be heard chanting "England!" and singing "God Save the Queen" as growing crowds gathered in the capital.

A section 60 Order was put in place at 11am this morning and will remain in place until 2am on Sunday.

Veterans have also been filmed marching through London as onlookers applauded.

One man, who said he is an immigrant, was filmed shaking the hands with anti-BLM protesters while wearing a 'Trump 2020' T-shirt.

"If you don’t love this country, leave," he could be heard saying.

Police were confronted by protesters in Whitehall near Parliament Square, London.

As several hundred demonstrators blocked roads around Parliament Square, police tried to corral them onto the pavements.

Other officers, some holding shields, remained in a line blocking access to the Cenotaph in Whitehall, while some in the crowd screamed abuse at them.

A demonstrator from south London, who gave her name as Victoria, was in the square with a banner reading "All lives matter".

Discussing controversial statues, she said: "It's the past. You've just gotta learn to live with it, they've done what they've done but it's still in the records they did good things.

"I've got things I don't want to remember, but I wouldn't go smashing things up because of it."

Daisy, a 26-year-old from Pimlico, passed demonstrators in Parliament Square as she went for a run at around 10.30am on Saturday morning and claimed many were already drinking alcohol.

"They were all drinking beers and there was already loads of cans lying round on the floor treating it like it was some sort of football away-day," she said.

"It was a really tense and hostile atmosphere. I didn't stay too long... it was really uncomfortable."

Meanwhile, anti-racism protesters in Newcastle have been kept apart from "statue protectors" at Grey's Monument in Newcastle.

Some of those opposed to the Black Lives Matter movement could be heard screaming "All lives matter" in the city centre while bottles and flares have been seen flying between protesters.

The monument was erected in 1838 to acclaim Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, for the passing of the Great Reform Act of 1832.

During his tenure as prime minister, he also saw the abolition of slavery in the British Empire, in which the government purchased slaves from their owners in 1833.

It comes as peaceful demonstrations in support of Black Lives Matter are taking place across the UK, while counter-protesters have headed to cities to protect the country's memorials.