Riot police have clashed with hundreds of protesters on Whitehall as the Black Lives Matter protests over George Floyd’s death became heated.
Officers in full riot gear and on horseback moved in amid tense scenes outside Downing Street.
Thousands of anti-racist activists had gathered outside Downing Street following a rally on Parliament Square and a march through central London on Saturday.
A police horse bolted after officers on horseback charged protesters just after 6pm as skirmishes erupted.
During extraordinary scenes only yards from the Prime Minister’s residence, a riderless horse was seen sprinting into the crowds. The police officer was left hospitalised by the incident.
A battle line was formed between police and the protesters and at one point a flare was thrown at officers, but tensions have since calmed.
The protest over the death of the unarmed African American in US police custody went ahead as planned despite two Cabinet ministers pleading for people to follow lockdown rules.
Mr Floyd, 46, died after a white officer held him down by pressing a knee into his neck in Minneapolis on May 25.
Footage of the incident showed Mr Floyd gasping and pleading “I can’t breathe”, after police apprehended him for the alleged use of a counterfeit $20 bill.
At Friday’s coronavirus news briefing, the Health Secretary warned people against joining the demonstrations this weekend, pointing out “we’re still facing a health crisis and coronavirus remains a real threat”.
His message was echoed by Home Secretary Priti Patel on Saturday, who addressed people wanting to protest on Sky News, saying: “Please don’t.”
Demonstrations were also held in Manchester, Sheffield, Newcastle and Cardiff on Saturday.
The London protest had remained largely peaceful before an escalation this evening.
It follows heated clashes between police and activists outside Downing Street during the last Black Lives Matter demonstration on Wednesday.
Earlier, boxer Anthony Joshua led protesters in Watford, telling crowds: “We can no longer sit back and remain silent on this senseless, unlawful killings and sly racism on another human being – based on what? Only their skin colour.
“We need to speak out in peaceful demonstrations – just like today, so well done Watford. We must not use a demonstration for selfish motives and turn it into rioting and looting.”
In London, most demonstrators who gathered in Parliament Square wore masks and face coverings, with some opting for gloves.
Chants included “black lives matter,” while placards carried by demonstrators referenced the coronavirus crisis, with one saying: “There is a virus greater than Covid-19 and it’s called racism.”