UK Politics

PM condemns violence as more than 100 arrested at protests

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More than 100 people were arrested during a day of unrest in central London, which was condemned by Prime Minister Boris Johnson as "racist thuggery".

At least 15 people were injured, including six police officers, during violent clashes on Saturday involving several hundred anti-racism protesters and rival demonstrators.

As Black Lives Matter supporters gathered in Hyde Park, a crowd of people – some of them far-right activists – gathered in Parliament Square, where they were claiming to protect statues.

Image: In an extraordinary moment during the violence, an injured man is carried to safety by a rival anti-racism protester near Waterloo Station

Despite both groups being warned that they must be off the streets by 5pm or risk arrest, footage shows that a significant number of people defied that order.

In Parliament Square, some were accused of "thoroughly unacceptable thuggery" after they threw bottles and cans at police officers.

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Police are confronted by protesters in Whitehall near Parliament Square, London
Image: Police are confronted by protesters in Whitehall near Parliament Square

Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: "Racist thuggery has no place on our streets. Anyone attacking the police will be met with full force of the law. These marches & protests have been subverted by violence and breach current guidelines. Racism has no part in the UK and we must work together to make that a reality."

Home Secretary Priti Patel added: "We have seen a small minority behave in extreme thuggery and violent behaviour.

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"That is simply unacceptable and the individuals that are basically putting the safety of our police officers and the safety of the public at risk will expect to face the full force of the law."

Police officers guard the Waterloo station, as the flare lies on the floor, during a Black Lives Matter protest in London
Image: A flare is thrown at police officers standing outside Waterloo Station

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan condemned the brutality aimed at police, writing on Twitter: "Millions of Londoners will have been disgusted by the shameful scenes of violence, desecration and racism displayed by the right-wing extremists who gathered in our city."

And Metropolitan Police commander Bas Javid condemned those involved in the "pockets of violence directed towards our officers".

Sky's home affairs correspondent Mark White, in Westminster, said there was "significant disorder" at times.

An injured man is led by the police during a Black Lives Matter protest following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, in Trafalgar Square in London
Image: At least 15 people were injured during the clashes

The London Ambulance Service confirmed it has treated 15 patients who were injured during the protests. Six members of the public were taken to hospital.

Those arrested were suspected of offences including breach of the peace, violent disorder, assaulting officers, possession of an offensive weapon, being drunk and disorderly, and possession of Class A drugs.

White said that, on Westminster Bridge, there were "quite ugly" scenes as some anti-racism protesters shouted and punched out at demonstrators attempting to reach Parliament Square.

"There were some Black Lives Matter protesters who were in there trying their best to stop their fellow protesters from attacking them," he added.

Black Lives Matter protesters and counter-protesters clash in central London.
Rival protesters cross paths

Although there have been pockets of violence, White said the police had managed to prevent "widespread and sustained disorder".

He described the demonstrators as a "disparate group" consisting of far-right activists from the English Defence League and the Football Lads Alliance, as well as members of the public and ex-servicemen and women who were genuinely concerned about statues being vandalised.

"There were some who were spoiling for trouble – just as there was on the other side among the Black Lives Matter protests last week and today," White added.

A small disorder broke out in Hyde Park with counter-protesters.
Demonstrators run into Hyde Park

At one point, "about 150 to 200" demonstrators ran into Hyde Park, despite officers trying to keep them separate from anti-racism protesters.

Sky correspondent Noel Phillips said a convoy of police tried to catch up with them – and said it appeared they were "intent on causing chaos and havoc".

"There was a small altercation we witnessed when they entered the park – they were fighting with a young person," he reported.

A Black Lives Matter protester says counter-protesters confronted her in Hyde Park, London.
'They threw a bottle at me and tripped me up'

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