Met police chief says assaults on officers ‘shocking’ as thousands more to protest against racism

‘We have made a number of arrests and justice will follow,’ Dame Cressida Dick says

Zoe Tidman
Sunday 07 June 2020 10:29
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Protestors in London show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement

The head of the Metropolitan Police called assaults on officers at an anti-racism rally “shocking” as thousands of people were expected to turn out for more protests in the UK on Sunday.

Dame Cressida Dick said 14 officers were injured in clashes with a “minority of protesters” following a peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstration in central London on Saturday.

Thirteen were hurt in protests earlier this week, the commissioner added.

“I am deeply saddened and depressed that a minority of protesters became violent towards officers in central London yesterday evening,” Dame Cressida said on Sunday morning.

“We have made a number of arrests and justice will follow,” she said. ”The number of assaults is shocking and completely unacceptable.”

Dame Cressida added: “I know many who were seeking to make their voices heard will be as appalled as I am by those scenes. There is no place for violence in our city.”

Her comments came as the UK geared up for more anti-racism protests, with thousands expected to turn out in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Bristol on Sunday.

A Black Lives Matter rally was scheduled outside the US Embassy in London amid global protests following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in the US after an officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes.

Tens of thousands of people took to the capital’s streets on Saturday calling for an end to systemic racism and police brutality, with other rallies happening around the country.

People took to the streets in London to support the Black Lives Matter movement on Saturday

Demonstrations were peaceful during the day, with some disturbances breaking out outside Downing Street as the evening drew in at around 6pm.

Scuffles happened after objects were thrown towards officers wearing protective gear, with police on horses driving back some of the demonstrators back along Whitehall.

Graffiti was daubed on nearby buildings – including the Cabinet Office – and a small “BLM” motif was painted on the Cenotaph.

Video footage showed a police officer falling from a horse – which then ran off – after colliding with a traffic light at the protest.

The Met Police later said the female officer had undergone surgery after being taken to hospital for treatment but her injuries were not life-threatening. A second officer was also seriously injured.

(Gemma Fox/The Independent

Twenty-nine arrests were made, including a 16-year-old boy and two women aged 21 and 49.

Speaking about Saturday’s protest, Dame Cressida said: “Officers displayed extreme patience and professionalism throughout a long and difficult day, and I thank them for that.”

John Apter, the national chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales said: “We utterly condemn the violence that has been directed at our officers ... by a thoughtless few, who act with no consideration that police officers are doing their jobs and also have families to go home to at night.”

He added: ”We must not lose sight of the fact that the country is still in the grip of a deadly pandemic. The gathering of thousands of people, however worthy the cause, still remains unlawful and is a danger to public health.”

Matt Hancock, the health secretary, warned people on Friday against joining the weekend’s protests due to the country’s coronavirus outbreak.

However, thousands took to the streets to protest against racism and police brutality, with signs in London saying “racism is a pandemic” and “silence is violence”.

Many people wore face masks and social-distancing measures were encouraged during events in some cities, including Manchester and Cardiff.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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