Johnson condemns violence during anti-racism protests
Prime minister Boris Johnson has condemned the use of violence against police during the weekend’s anti-racism protests, saying that the demonstrations had been “subverted by thuggery”.
The PM added that resorting to violence betrayed the cause of the protests, as thousands took to the streets in cities all over the UK for demonstrations which were largely peacefully practised.
Johnson tweeted: “People have a right to protest peacefully & while observing social distancing but they have no right to attack the police. These demonstrations have been subverted by thuggery - and they are a betrayal of the cause they purport to serve. Those responsible will be held to account."
In London, there were 12 arrests over the weekend while eight police officers were injured, violence which Metropolitan Police superintendent Jo Edwards branded “entirely unacceptable”.
John Apter, the national chairman of the Police Federation, also warned that the “legitimate message” of the protests risked being “hijacked by some who are intent on violence" against police, adding it could cause people to “lose sympathy” for protestors.
Meanwhile, events at protests in Bristol have sparked backlash after a statue of 17th Century slave trader Edward Colston was torn down by demonstrators and thrown into the city’s harbour, a move which was condemned as “disgraceful” by home secretary Priti Patel. Police have said an investigation into criminal damage will be launched.
Similar scenes were also seen in Parliament Square, where the statue of Sir Winston Churchill was defaced with graffiti, an act which was branded “stupid and counterproductive” by Middle East and North Africa minister James Cleverly.
Elsewhere, protests occurring in the city of Coventry lead to closures of the M6 for roughly one hour over the weekend.