London protests – live: Labour backs jail terms for war memorial vandals as man arrested on suspicion of urinating next to PC Keith Palmer plaque

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  • June 14, 2020
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Related video: Thugs attack riot police at BLM counter protest in London

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds has said he would back jail terms for people who vandal war memorials after several have been damaged during protests.

More than 100 people were arrested at violent far-right counter-demonstrations in London on Saturday, condemned by Boris Johnson as “racist thuggery”.

Six police officers were injured in clashes as several hundred demonstrators, mostly white men, attended the protest organised by far-right groups.

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The groups claimed they had turned up to protect statues from vandalism – but the demonstration quickly turned violent as protesters took over areas near the Houses of Parliament and Trafalgar Square and hurled missiles, smoke grenades, glass bottles and flares at police officers.


Good morning and welcome to today’s live blog. We’ll be bringing you rolling updates and reaction to Saturday’s violent protests in London.


More than 100 arrested as police officers and protesters injured

More than 100 people were arrested at yesterday’s far-right protest in central London following violent clashes between hundreds of demonstrators and police. 

Six police officers suffered minor injuries during the demonstration, organised by far-right groups, after protesters took over areas near the Houses of Parliament and Trafalgar Square. 

The groups claimed they had turned up to protect statues, such as that of Winston Churchill, from vandalism – but instead hurled missiles, smoke grenades, glass bottles and flares at police officers.

Outbursts of violence continued around the city after a 5pm curfew imposed by police had passed, with the last few protesters removed from Parliament Square at about 6.45pm. 

By 9pm, more than 100 people were arrested during the protest for offences including breach of the peace, violent disorder, assault on officers, possession of an offensive weapon, possession of class A drugs, and drunk and disorder. 

London Ambulance Service said it treated 15 people for injuries, including two police officers. 

Six of these patients, all members of the public, had to be taken to hospital. 


Boris Johnson has condemned the “racist thuggery” displayed during Saturday’s far-right protests in London.

The prime minister tweeted: “Racist thuggery has no place on our streets. Anyone attacking the police will be met with full force of the law.

“These marches and protests have been subverted by violence and breach current guidelines. Racism has no part in the UK and we must work together to make that a reality.”

My colleague Vincent Wood, who was at the scene of the protests in London yesterday, has this report:



Shadow home secretary backs jail terms for war memorial vandals

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds has said he would back the government creating a specific offence against damaging war memorials.

Mr Thomas-Symonds said he was “extremely disturbed” by the “completely and utterly unacceptable” scenes of violence on the streets following protests on Saturday.


He added: “I want to say a particular word as well about that awful scene of someone urinating next to PC Keith Palmer’s memorial.


“Absolutely despicable behaviour and I hope that individual is identified and brought to justice.”




PM must set out ‘concrete steps’ to address ‘inequality and racism’ in UK

Labour’s shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds added that prime minister Boris Johnson needs to set out “concrete steps” to address “the inequality and racism that still sadly exists in our country”.

He told the Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme: “The government needs to show leadership on the inequality and racism that still sadly exists in our country, and by that I mean the prime minister.


“The prime minister needs to come forward, show that he understands the hurt and the anguish of the stories that black people in our country have spoken about so movingly in recent weeks and also to set out the concrete steps that his government now intends to take to address that.”



Scenes in London ‘shocking and disgusting’, says chancellor

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said he agrees with the prime minister’s description of yesterday’s scenes in London as “racist thuggery”.

He told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday show: “I think the scenes we saw yesterday were both shocking and disgusting.

“This has always been an open and tolerant country and what we saw yesterday was not that.

“I fully support the police in taking the action they did. It’s sad that they had to and I would urge everyone to remember at a time when we’re facing a pandemic in this country to be mindful of that and to act responsibly.”


Country ‘united’ in condemning scenes in London, says chancellor

Asked about some of the experiences of racism he had as a child, Mr Sunak said the country has made “enormous progress” and has been “united” in condemning the scenes in London.

He told Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “There will always be a small minority who maintain prejudice and indeed are racist but that is not overall a description I would ascribe to our country. I think there’s been enormous progress.

“I do think things have changed enormously for the better because of how we’ve all evolved as a society.

“That doesn’t mean a small minority don’t still hold beliefs that I find abhorrent and all of us collectively share that. 

“I think what was interesting is the country was united in condemning what they saw yesterday and that just shows the progress we’ve made.”


Racist comments ‘sting in a way others don’t’, says Sunak

Speaking about his childhood experiences of being subjected to racism, Mr Sunak said racist comments “sting in a way that others don’t”.

He added: “There’s something about that that cuts to your core.”

The chancellor said he hasn’t experienced racism “for a long time” and that he thinks it is uncommon in our society because of “how we have evolved and adapted as a country”.

He added: “I can see people are upset and angry and they want change but change comes slowly and real change doesn’t come from wanton destruction or violence. That is wrong and will always be wrong.

“Our story as a country isn’t finished, of course there’s more to do but it’s also a point to remember that this is a welcoming, tolerant, diverse country where progress has been made. 

“That’s something we should be very proud of and remain united in condemning what we saw last night and whenever we see prejudice and discrimination, we should call it out for what it is which is unacceptable.”


Mr Sunak was asked whether he would support jail terms of up to 10 years for people who desecrate war memorials.

An image emerged yesterday of a man urinating next to a memorial to murdered police officer Keith Palmer, who was stabbed to death during the Westminster terror attack in 2017.

Mr Sunak said: “Yeah, that was one of the most distressing things to see yesterday and I know many people, certainly MPs, have raised this issue and the justice secretary will be meeting with all those MPs, I believe this week, to discuss these matters further but that was absolutely shocking scenes to see yesterday.”


A 28-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of urinating on a memorial to murdered police officer Keith Palmer during protests in London on Saturday.


Labour backs jail sentences plan for war memorial vandals

Labour has backed a plan by the government to jail people who deface war memorials and other monuments, the party’s shadow home secretary has said.

Under plans being considered by home secretary Priti Patel and cabinet colleagues, vandals could face 10-year prison sentences if convicted.

The proposed new law comes as gangs of far-right football hooligans mobilised across the country on Saturday to “protect” war memorials from anti-racism protesters, who they mistakenly believed were systematically targeting them.

Our policy correspondent Jon Stone has the full details:



‘I personally don’t want these statues taken away’, says Church of England’s first black female bishop

The Bishop of Dover, Rt Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin, has said she does not want statues linked to slavery and Britain’s racist past to be taken down, but instead favoured the idea of installing plaques.

Rev Hudson-Wilkin, the Church of England’s first black female bishop, said she supported Black Lives Matter protesters who have been holding peaceful demonstrations.


She told Sophy Ridge on Sky: “I personally don’t want those statues to be taken away, I would love to see a plaque written up that tells the true story, so that history can really be told in the right way.


“You take it away and it gets forgotten for just the privileged few who are able to go to the museum.


“I applaud those who are peacefully standing up to say we want a different world to live in.”


With lockdown slowly being eased, Britain is heading towards a “new normal, Pooja C Singh writes in this Indy Voices piece.

But recent events have shown that this “new normal” will not necessarily be limited to just social distancing.



Scouts must learn ‘failings’ of founder, says Bear Grylls


(Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)

Bear Grylls has said the Scout movement must learn the history and “failings” of its founder Robert Baden-Powell, a divisive figure who has been linked to the Nazis and the Hitler Youth programme.

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council in Dorset announced the statue of Baden-Powell on Poole Quay would be temporarily taken down after it was put on a target list.

But the removal, due to take place on Thursday, was delayed after a crowd of people – some wearing Scout uniforms – gathered around the statue and vowed to protect it.

Adventurer and TV presenter Grylls, who is Chief Scout, said Scouting needs to be aware of its past and Baden-Powell’s role.

Writing for, he said: “Baden-Powell may have taken the first step in creating Scouting, but the journey continues today without him. We know where we came from but we are not going back.”



A large group of protesters abused people sitting having a picnic in Hyde Park on Saturday afternoon, as far-right demonstrations took place in central London.

Video shared online shows the gang approach some people gathered in the park for a picnic, before swearing at them and forcing them to move.

My colleague Rory Sullivan has the full details:



Focussing on the specific intra-communal differences in the black community would be a lot more useful than the erasure that typically arises with the use of catch-all acronyms, Seun Matiluko writes in this piece for Indy Voices.



In the US, protesters in Atlanta have burned down a Wendy’s restaurant where a black man was shot dead by police on Friday.

Rayshard Brooks, 27, had allegedly fallen asleep in his car in the drive-thru lane at the fast food restaurant. Police attempted to arrest Mr Brooks after he failed a sobriety test.

My colleague Harry Cockburn reports:



In this bizarre video clip, rival protesters in London appear to fight over “who is more racist”.

Louis Staples has more details over on our sister site indy100:


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