A suspected far-right protester was carried to safety by a supporter of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement on Saturday as animosity was briefly set aside on a day of clashes in London between police and rival groups.
Pictures showed a white man, who the crowd identified as a far-right member, clutching his head as a black man carried him over his shoulders, flanked by police in riot gear.
The white man had been set upon on the steps leading to the Royal Festival Hall in central London and badly beaten, before other protesters stepped in to protect him, Reuters journalists at the scene said.
Earlier in the day there were skirmishes between anti-racism groups and far-right activists.
Several hundred demonstrators, mostly white men, attended a protest at Parliament Square organised by extremist groups including Britain First. Football fans, veterans and far-right groups all vowed to ‘defend’ memorials from anti-racism protests this weekend after Winston Churchill’s statue in Parliament Square was defaced and a statue of slave trader Edward Colston was dragged down in Bristol last weekend.
BLM had cancelled a planned protest in London on Saturday amid fears it would be targeted by hate groups, while Sadiq Khan urged people to stay away, warning there was a threat of it becoming hijacked by groups intent on causing violence.
However, some protesters with Black Lives Matter placards gathered peacefully at Trafalgar Square to protest against racism and police brutality.
Later in the day, police struggled to keep anti-racism protesters and far-right groups apart, with images showing the two groups clashing at Waterloo station.
Boris Johnson has condemned the ‘racist thuggery’ of the far-right, warning anyone attacking police will be met with the full force of the law.
Protests against racism and police brutality have gone ahead on a daily basis in cities across the world since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May.
Today, peaceful anti-racism protests took place elsewhere across the UK, including Liverpool, Bristol, Brighton and Manchester.
Though counter-demonstrations resulted in tensions flaring up at times, in Bolton, Greater Manchester, things ended with the two sides shaking hands in another inspiring moment of solidarity.
BLM 4 Bolton organisers say they were met by the opposing group as soon as they arrived to set up.
Counter-demonstrators, some of whom were in biking gear, chanted ‘all lives matter’ and booed loudly as anti-racism protesters demanded equality.
BLM organisers assured their followers that they ‘would not be riled up’ in the face of abuse and expletives and continued to make speeches and sing calmly.
Meanwhile, one man who appeared to be a leader of the counter-demonstrators physically restrained those from his side, announcing that they were present to protect Bolton’s war memorial and nothing more.
Tensions did briefly break out along the front line of the two protests, the Manchester Evening News reported, with police piling in to control the crowds.
When the groups began to disperse, two young black men from the BLM group walked forward across the square and extended their hands to the counter-demonstrators.
Applause rang out across the square as the two sides embraced and shook hands.
A young black man said: ‘We’re here to support Black Lives Matter
because my life matters’, while a counter-protester said: ‘We’re here to protect our grandparents’ monument’.
BLM solidarity marchers said that the Cenotaph was never a target for them and kept their cool as ‘all lives matter’ chants continued.
Reporters at the scene said the discussions were heated but that protesters from both sides seemed genuinely willing to spell out their thoughts and beliefs, explaining why they were there and hearing each other out.
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