London protests: Far right protesters 'guarding' Winston Churchill statue clash violently with police

Violence has broken out in clashes between protesters and police in the capital this afternoon.

Bottles are thrown at mounted police as members of far-right groups gathered to guard statues in Parliament Square. Picture: Getty
Bottles are thrown at mounted police as members of far-right groups gathered to guard statues in Parliament Square. Picture: Getty

Police on horseback are pushing demonstrators back from the Winston Churchill statue in Parliament Square in London after outbreaks of violence from far-right groups this afternoon.

Demonstrators, predominantly white men, gathered around the Cenotaph war memorial in Whitehall and the boarded-up statue of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square on Saturday.

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Several bottles and cans were thrown at police officers on around 1pm with videos of attacks on officers reported and filmed.

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Officers in the UK capital had told those planning on joining Black Lives Matter demonstrations that they must be off the streets by 5pm on Saturday. In an attempt to avoid a repeat of last week's violent clashes with police, protesters have been told they must stick to the planned route that will run from Hyde Park to Whitehall.

A Black Lives Matter demonstration planned for today was brought forward by a day over fears there could be clashes with counter-demonstrations aiming to ‘guard’ monuments.Anti-racism group Hope Not Hate has said football gangs from West Ham, Chelsea, Millwall, Sheffield Wednesday, Hull and Spurs are among the groups planning on coming to London.Far right group Britain First has also said its members will attend.

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Sharing footage of the clashes on Twitter, Home Secretary Priti Patel described it as "unacceptable thuggery".

"Any perpetrators of violence or vandalism should expect to face the full force of the law," she wrote.

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"Violence towards our police officers will not be tolerated."

Section 60

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The Met Police has brought in a Section 60 order allowing their officers to conduct stop and searches for items of violence.

The force’s Commander Bas Javid said: “The safety of protesters, officers and the public this weekend is of the upmost importance, and it is for that exact reason why we have consulted with colleagues and partners, and decided it is proportionate to put in place a Section 60.

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“It is our job to protect those who are coming into central London today, and this tactic is one of the best available to us, which allows us to seize offensive weapons that have absolutely no place on our streets at any time of the day.

“Whilst we believe there is no imminent threat to the public, we want people to be aware of why they may be stopped by London’s officers, spoken to, and possibly searched as well. Officers will, as always, be professional and courteous and I really want the public to speak to police if they have any concerns about why they are being stopped and spoken to.”Commander Javid added: “We will not tolerate any violent disorder like we saw last weekend - and anyone who thinks they can commit a crime or vandalise property will be arrested."

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‘Topple the Racists’

On Friday, Boris Johnson expressed his dismay at the growing focus on removing statues in the wake of the toppling of the memorial to slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol on June 7.

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More than 60 other statues are now listed as targets on a website called Topple the Racists.

The Prime Minister said to take statues down would "be to lie about our history".

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Mr Johnson, in a series of social media posts, said: "We cannot pretend to have a different history.

"Those statues teach us about our past, with all its faults."

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