Two days of Black Lives Matter protests brought central London to a standstill last weekend as thousands of protestors made their voices heard at the US embassy, Parliament Square and Whitehall.
On Saturday and Sunday the protests began in the afternoon and remained completely peaceful until the evening when the remaining few protestors caused havoc.
Across both days, 65 protestors were arrested for violent disorder, criminal damage and assaulting police with 35 police officers left injured and one needing surgery after colliding with a lamp post when she fell from her horse that had bolted.
Police activity ran late into both nights with dispersal and containment orders known as a ‘kettle’ were used to hold protestors thought to be causing trouble.
On Sunday evening the remaining protestors managed to form barricades from items found lying around and lobbed fireworks and bottles at riot police before being dispersed by 2am.
The Metropolitan police commissioner, Cressida Dick, said: “In recent days a minority of protesters sought confrontation with police leading to many officers being injured, including several seriously.
“When officers sought to protect colleagues and iconic landmarks they faced further obstruction and sustained assault.
“The violent criminality we saw is disgraceful and will have been very frightening for others. It will never be acceptable to attack police officers, damage property and leave others in fear of their safety. We will be carrying out a thorough investigation so that those responsible for criminal acts are brought speedily to justice.
“Furthermore, those attending mass gatherings risk exposing themselves and others to this deadly virus and I would ask them to find other ways to express their anger and frustration.
“Policing is always complex and challenging, and right now that is the case more than ever.
“I am very proud of the work my officers are carrying out to reassure our communities and to keep the streets of our capital safe and calm.”
Sunday’s protest had started peacefully outside the US embassy in Battersea before making its way across Vauxhall Bridge to Parliament Square where it took on a festival atmosphere with people dancing, giving talks and handing out masks and water.
But with a sense of inevitability the protestors turned on the police when a large majority of protestors had gone home.
Home secretary Priti Patel told the House of Commons on Monday that the protests had been “subverted” by “thugs and criminals”.
She said: “As the ugly tally of officer assaults shows some protesters regrettably turned to violence and abusive behaviour at the weekend.
“This hooliganism is utterly indefensible. There is no justification for it. There is no excuse for pelting flares at brave officers, throwing bikes at police horses, attempting to disrespect the Cenotaph or vandalising the statue of Winston Churchill.”
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