Police are investigating after Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters were abused by a crowd chanting racist abuse in Hertfordshire during a peaceful demonstration.
Videos posted online show a group of men hurling abuse at demonstrators, who gathered in the town of Hoddesdon on Monday evening to protest against systemic racism following the death of George Floyd in the US.
One man can be heard shouting at the protesters: “Why don’t you go back to Africa?”. Others swear repeatedly at them and another challenges them to fight.
Organisers of the BLM event later posted a message on Instagram that read: “Thank you to everyone who came out and protested today.
“Though we had to directly face racists who tried to discredit our efforts, together we showed solidarity, letting Hoddesdon know that #blacklivesmatter.”
On Tuesday, local police said an investigation had been launched into the incident.
Hertfordshire Constabulary assistant chief constable Bill Jephson said: “We understand that people of all ethnicities, throughout Hertfordshire and beyond rightly feel horrified about the death of George Floyd in America.
“We as a Constabulary stand shoulder to shoulder with those across the country, and indeed the world, who are both saddened and angered by the way Mr Floyd lost his life on 25 May.
“We will always challenge discrimination and racism wherever we find it and investigate crime reported to us and are taking action as a result of what happened in Hoddesdon yesterday.”
Declan McKenna, an English singer who grew up near Hoddesdon, was among those who condemned the actions of the counter-protesters.
McKenna wrote on Twitter: “Hoddesdon, neighbouring my hometown Cheshunt, displayed the clear reality of racism in the UK yesterday in response to a peaceful protest.
"This is not just America’s problem, it is clearly ours," the message added.
Tottenham Hotspur is also investigating the incident, which purportedly involved supporters of the club.
“These are no fans of ours,” Spurs tweeted. “This Club does not tolerate racist, discriminatory or hateful behaviour of any kind. We are looking into this and will take the necessary action against any so-called ‘fan’ involved.”
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