Police in London have arrested a 28-year-old man after an individual was photographed on Saturday apparently urinating on a memorial to a police officer killed while defending Parliament from a terrorist attack in 2017.
The man was arrested north of London “on suspicion of outraging public decency” — even as over 100 others were arrested after violence broke out as far-right groups targetted anti-racism Black Lives Matter protests.
Hundreds of protesters gathered in Parliament Square — some of them chanted “England” during clashes, and said the counter-protest was intended to “protect” statues around Parliament Square, including that of wartime prime minister Winston Churchill.
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel described the behaviour as “thoroughly unacceptable thuggery.”
There have been demonstrations around the world against racism and police abuses since the death of African American George Floyd in Minneapolis last month. In British cities, tens of thousands of people have marched peacefully during previous days of protest.
n London, the demonstrators numbered fewer on Saturday than in recent days, after announcements by far-right groups that they would converge on the city centre prompted anti-racism activists to cancel a planned march and instead call for scattered protests.
Statues of historical figures including Winston Churchill were boarded up to prevent them from becoming flashpoints or being defaced by protesters who say such monuments celebrate racists.
In Trafalgar Square, officers formed barriers between BLM and far-right groups, as authorities in the UK capital urged people to stay away from the protests, given the high likelihood of violence.
The Mayor of London’s office said: “The statues of Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi are being temporarily covered for their protection. All other statues in Parliament Square and Trafalgar Square remain under review and we will put protection in place should the need arise.”
Meanwhile, thousands of people gathered in central Paris to protest against police brutality — an issue symbolised in France by the 2016 death in custody of Adama Traoré, a young black man.
Saturday’s protests were organised by 17 groups, including the family’s “Truth for Adama” campaign.
A large crowd of protesters also gathered in Perth in Western Australia for a rally in support of the Black Lives Matters movement Saturday.
The rally, organised by First Nations Elders, aims to draw attention to and end violence against Aboriginal people in police custody and to end state sponsored racism.
Saturday’s rally to support the Black Lives Matter movement in Sydney was made illegal by a court injunction over pandemic public health concerns.