• Sunday, July 03, 2022

HEADLINE STORY

UK demonstrations turn violent as right-wing and anti-racism protesters scuffle

A counter-protester argues with Black Lives Matter demonstrators at Westminster, London, on June 13, 2020. (REUTERS/Dylan Martinez)

By: Eastern Eye Staff

ANTI-RACISM protesters rallied again around Britain on Saturday (13), with scuffles breaking out as counter-demonstrators also came out to protect monuments targeted for their links to colonial history.

Statues of historical figures including Winston Churchill — Britain’s World War Two leader whom protesters call a xenophobe — were boarded up to try and minimise trouble.

In Trafalgar Square, police separated two groups of about 100 people each, one chanting “Black Lives Matter”, the other racial slurs. Some groups jostled, tossed bottles and cans, and set off fireworks, as riot police with dogs and horses lined up.

In some places far-right protesters clashed with the police too.

Demonstrations have been taking place around the world over the death of African American George Floyd in Minneapolis after a white policeman knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

In Britain, debate is raging over monuments to those involved in the nation’s imperialist past, especially after the statue of slave trader Edward Colston was torn down and thrown into the harbour of Bristol port last weekend.

Police said on Saturday that some people were bringing weapons to the London rallies. They imposed route restrictions on both groups and said rallies must end by 5 p.m. (1600 GMT).

“Anyone who thinks they can commit a crime or vandalise property will be arrested,” Commander Bas Javid said in a statement.

 

A group referring to themselves as “patriots” clash with anti-racism protesters at the Cenotaph during a Black Lives Matter protest on June 13, 2020 in Manchester, England. A number of anti-racism protesters have gathered for protests in the UK despite the cancellation of the official events due to fears of clashes with far-right groups. Following a social media post by the far-right activist known as Tommy Robinson, members of far-right linked groups have gathered around statues in London, which have been targeted by Black Lives Matter protesters for their links to racism and the slave trade. (Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

 

‘MY CULTURE UNDER ATTACK’

In and around Parliament Square, hundreds of people wearing football shirts, chanting “England, England”, and describing themselves as patriots, gathered alongside military veterans to guard the Cenotaph war memorial.

The group sang songs in support of right-wing activist Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, who goes by the name of Tommy Robinson.

“Winston Churchill, he’s one of our own,” they also chanted, near his statue which last weekend was sprayed with graffiti reading: “Churchill was a racist”.

“My culture is under attack. This is my culture and my English history: why should Churchill be boarded up? Why is the Cenotaph attacked? It is not right,” said David Allen, one of the protesters.

About two miles away, around 20 anti-racism protesters gathered at Hyde Park, holding Black Lives Matter placards, even though organisers had told them not to attend fearing clashes.

Hundreds also attended rallies in other English cities, many donning masks due to the coronavirus pandemic. “To Be Black Is Not A Crime,” read one placard at a rally in Reading.

Eastern Eye

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