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Far-right statue protest slammed as ‘racist thuggery’ by Boris Johnson as 100 arrested and police attacked

More than 100 people were arrested at the demonstrations in London (PA)

3 min read

A far-right protest by self-proclaimed "statue defenders” was condemned by Boris Johnson as "racist thuggery” after more than 100 people were arrested in central London.

Police were injured after hundreds of demonstrators clashed with officers outside Parliament and Trafalgar Square on Saturday afternoon.

They claimed they wanted to protect monuments from vandalism after they were targeted during Black Lives Matter protest in London a week earlier.

It came after the authorities in the capital boarded up statues in Parliament Square of Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi on Friday to prevent them being targeted.

But the rally turned violent with missiles, smoke grenades, bottles and flares thrown at police, while crowds of mostly white men chanted "Tommy Robinson” and charged at the lines of officers.

And there was outrage after one was pictured urinating next to the memorial to PC Keith Palmer, who was stabbed to death in the Westminster terror attack in 2017.

The Prime Minister wrote on Twitter: "Racist thuggery has no place on our streets. Anyone attacking the police will be met with full force of the law.

"These marches and 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."

The Met said more than 100 people were taken into custody for offences ranging between violent disorder, assaulting a police officer, weapons and drugs possession as well as breach of the peace and drunk and disorder.

And they said an investigation has been launched to find the man who urinated next to the stone commemorating PC Palmer.

Tory MP Tobias Ellwood, who gave him first aid after he was attacked just inside the gates of Parliament by Khalid Masood, said the incident was “abhorrent" and urged whoever was responsible to come forward and apologise.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said of the protest: "We have seen some shameful scenes today, including the desecration of PC Keith Palmer's memorial in Parliament, in Westminster Square, and quite frankly that is shameful, that is absolutely appalling and shameful."

The Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the violence against police had been "completely unacceptable”.

He tweeted: "Today's protests in London were led by those intent on causing violence and sowing hate for their own ends. We must not let them win."

And Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: "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 today."

The violent scenes in Westminster were a direct contrast with peaceful demonstrations in Hyde Park and Marble Arch in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

In Brighton, more than 10,000 people attended an anti-racism protest, while there were similar gatherings around monuments in Belfast, Glasgow and Bristol.

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