BORIS Johnson has declared the Black Lives Matters protests have been “subverted by thuggery” as the Bristol mayor insisted the statue toppling was “iconic”.
The Prime Minister has lashed out as cops were pictured bleeding after yobs hurled fireworks and other objects at them during the unrest at the anti-racism protest in Whitehall.
Yesterday saw police were chased through the streets of London by Black Lives Matter protestors as peaceful demonstrations turned violent.
Now the PM has warned those responsible “will be held to account”.
He said: “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.”
Disturbing footage shows a group of officers being surrounded by a masked mob forcing them to flee as glass bottles and other projectiles are launched at them.
One demonstrator was seen climbing on the national war memorial, The Cenotaph, which is dedicated to those who died in WWI, and setting fire to the Union flag.
Sunday’s peaceful protests, which were spoiled by a minority of thugs, took place outside the US Embassy in a response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month.
His comments came as the the Bristol mayor defended the toppling of the statue of slave trader Edward Colston.
Protesters yesterday brought the statue down, rolled it through the streets and threw it into the harbour.
Marvin Rees said:
“I am of Jamaican heritage and I cannot pretend that I have any real sense of loss for the statue and I cannot pretend it was anything other than a personal affront to me to have it in the middle of Bristol, the city in which I grew up.”
“I think it would be an iconic moment that would draw attention… my concern is that racism is tackled not just through pulling down statues.”
The past few days have seen activists in face masks holding placards reading “I can’t breathe” to echo the final words of Floyd after white police officer Derek Chauvin held him down by kneeling on his neck.
Others have taken a kneel in solidarity with those of who have accused police of brutality on a global scale.
Images from last night show cops and protesters clashing near Whitehall.
Other images show a police officer with blood coming down his face as colleagues treat him on the pavement.
The Home Secretary branded the escalation of violence as “lawless and reckless” last night, The Daily Mail reported.
Priti Patel described the scenes as “disgraceful vandalism” by a “thuggish minority”
Met Police said 12 people were arrested on Sunday night and eight officers were injured.
Superintendent Jo Edwards, spokesperson for the protests, said: “Regrettably officers were faced with further scenes of violence and disorder following a day of predominantly peaceful protest throughout the capital.
“This is a hugely impassioned movement and we understand the public’s desire to have their voices heard – however it is not right that this passion has turned into violent attacks on officers.
“I would like to thank our officers, and those from the City of London Police and British Transport Police for their professionalism in the face of entirely unacceptable behaviour.
“Overnight our policing operation will continue and I would urge demonstrators thinking of returning to stay at home. The threat of Coronavirus remains very real, and we need you to protect yourselves, your friends and your family.”
Protests in London and the rest of the UK have mostly been peaceful throughout the weekend.
Yesterday, the protesters marched on the US Embassy in Battersea after Floyd was killed in Minneapolis on May 25 in a tragedy that shocked the world and highlighted issues of racism by police.
They made their way to Whitehall across Vauxhall Bridge as the protest continues.
The Winston Churchill statue was defaced for a second day in a row during the protests in London.
Churchill’s name was crossed out and in black spray paint ‘was a racist’ was written underneath.
A further 4,000 people have descended on a gathering in Bristol and peaceful demonstrations are also being held in Edinburgh and Glasgow.
In Bristol yesterday, a statue of slave trader Edward Colston was toppled as jubilent protesters jumped up and down on it.
Dramatic pictures show crowds holding up signs reading “Black Lives Matter” as they chant the name of the movement.
The majority of the day’s protests were peaceful, until tension escalated at about 7pm last night leading to 29 arrests, the Met Police said.
Many protesters are wearing face masks to protect them against deadly coronavirus, while others are attempting to socially distance.
On Saturday, thousands met at Black Lives Matter rallies in London, Manchester, Newcastle, Cardiff and Watford.
And 14 police officers were injured – including a female cop thrown from her horse – as the protest turned violent.
Video showed her colliding with a traffic light before the horse bolted through a crowd of protesters.
The officer was taken to hospital with “nasty injuries” following the horror in Whitehall on Saturday.
Earlier in the day, the Winston Churchill statue was vandalised during yesterday’s Black Lives Matter protest in London’s Parliament Square.
Pictures show police officers standing in front of the memorial with neon green graffiti defacing it on the 76th anniversary of D-Day.
It appears the world-famous memorial was defaced with letters ACAB – which is believed to stand for ‘All Cops Are B******s’.
Other monuments were also damaged – including statues in Parliament Square daubed with the words “racist” and “f**k Boris”.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick there was “no place for violence” in the capital.
She added: “I am deeply saddened and depressed that a minority of protesters became violent towards officers in central London yesterday evening
“The number of assaults is shocking and completely unacceptable.
“I know many who were seeking to make their voices heard will be as appalled as I am by those scenes. “Officers displayed extreme patience and professionalism throughout a long and difficult day, and I thank them for that.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has also warned there is “undoubtedly a risk” there will be an increase in coronavirus cases following the protests.
He said he supported the protesters’ arguments, but urged: “Please don’t gather in groups of more than six people because there is also a pandemic that we must address and control.
“And so we’ve got to make the argument, we’ve got to make further progress, on top of the significant progress that has been made in recent years, but we’ve got to do it in a way that’s safe and controls the virus.”
The death of dad Floyd, 46, has been classified as a homicide after an autopsy found his heart stopped as police restrained him and compressed his neck.
A separate autopsy commissioned for Floyd’s family also found he died of asphyxiation due to neck and back compression.
Chauvin, filmed in the now-viral video kneeling on Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes before he lost consciousness, has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
The other three officers on scene have now been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
All four have been sacked from their jobs in the police force.
Floyds death sparked fury across the world with protests in the US marred by the looting and destroying of shops as violence erupted.
However, peaceful demonstrations have now taken over.