Thousands of protesters gathered on Sunday in London in opposition to the murder of unarmed black man George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. Some demonstrators were seen wearing face masks with the slogan “Racism is a virus”.
A minority of protesters also clashed on Saturday with mounted police near Downing Street, where Prime Minister Boris Johnson lives.
London police chief Cressida Dick confirmed that 27 officers had been hurt during last week’s demonstrations, as she branded the confrontation “shocking and completely unacceptable”.
Some 14 officers were injured on Saturday alone.
Two officers sustained serious injuries, with one of them needing surgery after colliding with a traffic light and subsequently falling off her horse.
Boris Johnson warns Black Lives Matters protests are ‘subverted by thuggery’
Boris Johnson issues a stark warning over the protests
Authorities had pleaded with protesters not to demonstrate in London again on Sunday, claiming they risk spreading coronavirus.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson took to Twitter to condemn those who had resorted to violence.
“People have a right to protest peacefully and while observing social distancing but they have no right to attack the police,” he wrote.
“These demonstrations have been subverted by thuggery – and they are a betrayal of the cause they purport to serve.
One police officer needed surgery after colliding with a traffic light and subsequently falling off her horse
“Those responsible will be held to account,” Mr Johnson warned.
However, protesters gathered outside the US Embassy near Vauxhall to demand justice for George Floyd.
The crowds later made their way towards Parliament and Downing Street in a march through Victoria.
Protesters were seen taking the knee in Parliament Square as many placed their placards on the railings outside Parliament.
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Sunday’s gathering in London was largely peaceful
“Now is the time: we need to do something. We have become so complacent in the UK but the racism that killed George Floyd was born in the UK in terms of colonialism and white supremacy,” said 28-year-old Hermione Lake, who was showing a placard reading: “white silence = violence”.
“We need to completely gut the system. … We need massive reform, massive change.”
People also gathered in other English towns to demand justice for Mr Floyd.
In Bristol, protesters toppled a statue of 17th century slave trader Edward Colston before throwing it into the harbour.
In London, Sunday’s gathering was largely peaceful as protesters waved their placards with messages including “Black Lives Matter” and “The UK is not innocent!”.
Authorities had pleaded with protesters not to demonstrate in London again on Sunday
Some isolated clashes happened outside the Foreign Office between demonstrators and police after one man was arrested and crowds began to disperse.
One police officer sustained an injury to the head but his wound was assessed by colleagues.
Section 35 dispersal order has since been triggered and it will remain in place until 06:00 on Monday.
Pauline Nandoo, 60, said she had been attending anti-racism since the 1970s and she was still doing so last week.
“There’s children of all ages and older adults here,” said Ms Nandoo, who was with her brother and 13-year-old daughter.
They are going to experience what we have experienced, and we have to try to make that not happen.”