Priti Patel attacks Black Lives Matter protests as ‘dreadful’ and criticises taking the knee

Asked if she would drop her knee, home secretary says ‘No I would not. There are other ways in which people can express their opinions’

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Friday 12 February 2021 14:22 GMT
Priti Patel attacks Black Lives Matter protests as ‘dreadful’ and criticises ‘taking the knee’

Priti Patel has criticised sports stars who ‘take the knee’ and attacked last year’s Black Lives Matter protests as “dreadful”.

Asked if she would adopt the symbol of injustice, the home secretary said: “No I would not. There are other ways in which people can express their opinions.”

In an explosive interview, Ms Patel also refused to express confidence in Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, saying she “does a lot of great work” – but that there were “questions’ about her.

At one point, she appeared to say she did not support protests at all, before clarifying she opposed the BLM demonstrations that swept the country last summer, saying: “Those protests were dreadful.”

Criticising the targeting of statues, Ms Patel added: “Protesting in the way in which people did last summer was not the right way at all. 

“We saw statues being brought down,” she said, adding: “Some councils making, quite frankly, a stance around statues and street names. There are other ways in which those discussions can take place.”

And, asked if she “didn’t agree with taking the knee per se, at all”, she told LBC Radio: “No.”

The Met Commissioner is under fresh pressure over her force’s botched VIP child sex abuse investigation, which she set up more than six years ago.

Asked, repeatedly, if she had confidence in Ms Dick, Ms Patel responded: “I work with the Commissioner. The Commissioner does a lot of great work and she oversees the largest police force in the country.

“There are still questions, rightly so, some questions have been put to me today actually, very publicly in newspapers, and it’s right that I also look at these questions.”

Her spokesman quickly tried to repair the damage by rushing out an extraordinary correction of his boss, which said: “As the Home Secretary said, she works with Cressida Dick every day. The Home Secretary has full confidence in her to do her job.”

Demonstrations were held across the UK last summer, following the police killing of George Floyd in the US, and in protest against discrimination in this country.

The vast majority were peaceful, although there were clashes between protesters and police in London and some vandalism of statues including that of Winston Churchill.

Most famously, in Bristol, the statue of 17th century slave trade Edward Colston was toppled from its pedestal and then pushed it into the city’s harbour.

“Last summer was quite a moment with all the protest that we saw taking place,” Ms Patel told the radio station.

“We saw policing as well coming under a great deal of pressure from some of the protest. I don’t support protest and I also did not support the protests that were associated...”

Interrupted, she sought to clarify that she was not criticising the right to protest itself, but rather the “dreadful” action taken by BLM marchers.

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