Priti Patel warns ’hooligans’ who attacked police at Black Lives Matters protests ‘you will face justice’
Priti Patel criticised the 'mob' who tore down a statue in Bristol (Parliamentlive.TV)
Home Secretary Priti Patel blasted the “hooliganism” and “thuggery” of those involved in the Black Lives Matter protests who injured police officers.
Speaking in the Commons after a weekend of overwhelmingly peaceful demonstrations across the country in response to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, she claimed “police brutality in the United States is no excuse for the violence against our brave police officers at home”.
She hit out after it was revealed at least 35 officers were injured during unrest in London, and labelled those involved in the tearing down of a statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol as a “mob”.
Ms Patel said she was “sickened at George Floyd’s tragic death”, and fully appreciates “the strength of feeling over his senseless killing, and the inequality that black people can sadly still face, and the deep-seated desire for change”.
But speaking about the confrontation between protesters and police she told MPs: “This hooliganism is utterly indefensible. There is no justification for it.
“There is no excuse for pelting flares at brave officers, throwing bikes at police horses, attempting to disrespect the cenotaph or vandalising the statue of Winston Churchill - one of the greatest protectors of our freedoms who has ever lived.
"It is not for mobs to tear down statues and cause criminal damage in our streets. And it is not acceptable for thugs to racially abuse black police officers for doing their jobs.
“The criminals responsible for these unlawful and reckless acts are betraying the very cause that they purport to serve.”
She added: “To the criminal minority who have subverted this cause with their thuggery, I simply say this: Your behaviour is shameful, and you will face justice.”
But the Government was urged by Labour MP Florence Eshalomi to do more to show that black lives matter and resolve the "structural inequality, discrimination and racism" in the UK.
She added: "My son turned three yesterday, I do not want to have to wait until he's a teenager before we see changes in this country - will this Government and the Home Secretary act now?”
In response Ms Patel said she was "really saddened" that she had "effectively said that this Government doesn't understand racial inequality".
"Well, on that basis, it must have been a very different Home Secretary who as a child was frequently called a Paki in the playground,” she replied.
“A very different Home Secretary who was racially abused in the streets or even advised to drop her surname and use her husband's in order to advance her career.
"A different Home Secretary recently characterised, if madam deputy speaker I can say so, in The Guardian newspaper as a fat cow with a ring through its nose - something that was not only racist but offensive, both culturally and religiously.
"This is hardly an example of respect, equality, tolerance or fairness.
"So, when it comes to racism, sexism, tolerance for social justice, I will not take lectures from the other side of the House.”