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UK Home Secy Priti Patel Condemns ‘Thuggery’ as Protesters Clash With Police

File Phoro of UK Home Secretary Priti Patel. (Image: Twitter)

File Phoro of UK Home Secretary Priti Patel. (Image: Twitter)

Scenes from central London showed violent scuffles near the boarded-up statue of former UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill in Parliament Square as right-wing protesters sang the national anthem.

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel on Saturday condemned the “unacceptable thuggery” after some far-right protesters clashed with police in central London, as thousands defied appeals to avoid large gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Scotland Yard had imposed Section 60 under the UK's Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, which gives officers the right to search people in a defined area during a specific time period.

The Metropolitan Police also set a specific time and area parameter for competing protests planned by anti-racism groups and right-wing activists.

“Thoroughly unacceptable thuggery. Any perpetrators of violence or vandalism should expect to face the full force of the law. Violence towards our police officers will not be tolerated,” Patel said in a Twitter statement along with footage of the clashes showing bottles being hurled at officers.

“Coronavirus remains a threat to us all. Go home to stop the spread of this virus and save lives,” the minister said.

Scenes from central London showed violent scuffles near the boarded-up statue of former UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill in Parliament Square as right-wing protesters sang the national anthem and claimed to be out in large numbers to protect the city's statues, which had been targeted by anti-racist protesters with graffiti during protests last weekend.

“The safety of protesters, officers and the public this weekend is of the upmost importance, and it is for that exact reason why we have consulted with colleagues and partners, and decided it is proportionate to put in place a Section 60,” Commander Bas Javid of the Met Police said, as he once again urged people to stay away from large gatherings.

“It is our job to protect those who are coming into central London today, and this tactic is one of the best available to us, which allows us to seize offensive weapons that have absolutely no place on our streets at any time of the day,” he said.

Under the police restrictions in place, Black Lives Matter demonstrators must stick to a specific route between Hyde Park and Trafalgar Square and counter-protesters have been designated a space between Whitehall and Parliament Square in the heart of London. All gatherings have a time curfew set for 5pm local time.

Anti-racism protesters as part of the Black Lives Matter demonstrators in solidarity with protests around the world following the killing of African American George Floyd in the US had moved their originally planned protest a day earlier on Friday, with only smaller groups gathering around Hyde Park in London on Saturday.

Large numbers of anti-racism protesters turned out in other parts of the UK, including a large silent protest along the beach front of the sea-side town of Brighton.

Hundreds of people also gathered in Glasgow, Bristol and Belfast as part of events organised to "protect" war memorials.


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