Priti Patel slams ‘patently racist’ protesters after violent clashes between far-right and police
Priti Patel said it was "right that a good number have been arrested" following the protest (Parliamentlive.tv)
Priti Patel has condemned the “sickening conduct” of “patently racist” protesters after revealing that 137 were arrested amid violent scenes in Westminster on Saturday.
Around 2,000 individuals gathered around Parliament Square over the weekend in counter-protest against the Black Lives Matter movement after some monuments were vandalised at past events.
But the Home Secretary branded the counter-demonstrators “far-right thugs” and said she was “saddened and sickened” by those who came to London “on a so-called mission to protect the statue of Sir Winston Churchill”.
Ms Patel continued: “Those thugs, far from protecting our heritage, did all that they could to destroy and undermine those values.
“There is no place for their sickening conduct and hate in our society.
“They were violent, they were aggressive, and abusive towards police officers. They were patently racist. It is right that a good number have been arrested.”
She also revealed that around 210,000 people had attended anti-racism events across the UK since the death of George Floyd in American police custody three weeks ago.
But while these events had been largely peaceful, Ms Patel said Saturday’s protests had led to “eruptions of violence” between “far-right hooligans” and the police.
“Smoke bombs, glass bottles were lobbed at the police in shameful scenes," she said.
Ms Patel added: "Thirty-eight police officers were hurt across the country this weekend, as they were kicked, punched or pelted with missiles.
“As this ugly operational picture demonstrates, many of the so-called protestors came with the deliberate intent of causing harm to those around them and to police officers. This hooliganism is utterly indefensible.”
In total, 137 arrests were made on Saturday, taking the total number of arrests made at both Black Lives Matter protests and counter events to around 280.
At least 100 officers have been injured so far, Ms Patel claimed, including three police horses and one police dog.
Her comments come amid heightened racial tensions across the country following George Floyd’s death and a recent Public Health England review which found coronavirus disproportionately affects minority groups.
On Monday, the prime minister announced a new “cross-governmental commission” which will look at “all aspects” of racial inequality in the UK in response to the concerns.
The issue was amplified earlier this month after protesters tore down a statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol.
Following the incident, Boris Johnson claimed the Black Lives Matters protests had been “subverted by thuggery”, as has insisted the UK is not a racist country.