Clashes erupted on Saturday afternoon in the centre of London between police and extreme-right demonstrators vowing to “protect” monuments against anti-racism activists.
Thousands of demonstrators defied a ban on crowds linked to the new coronavirus (Covid-19) and massed in front of Parliament, where the statue of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill was defaced on the margins of demonstrations against racism last weekend.
Bottles of water and cans were thrown at law enforcers as protesters shouted “England.” Although the Black Lives Matter association cancelled a demonstration that had been scheduled for Saturday afternoon in the centre of London, hundreds of anti-racism protesters assembled in Hyde Park before moving towards the city centre.
Police asked them to disperse at 6:00 PM to avoid the risk of clashes with extreme-right groups. The anti-racism association “Hope Not Hate” had warned that many groups of football fans planned to take part in counter-protests, along with members of extreme-right movements such as Britain First.
The words “was a racist” had been daubed on the statue of Winston Churchill, under the name of the Conservative leader accused of making racist remarks, particularly against Indians.
Other statues symbolising Britain’s colonial past have been targeted in the country, such as that of slave trader Edward Colston, which was taken from its plinth in Bristol and dumped into the harbour.
In London, the statues of Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi, close to Parliament, were protected on Friday while that of Churchill was sheltered in a metal box.
The Brussels Times