Police charge Black Lives Matter protesters outside Downing Street

Demonstrations in London yesterday (6 June 2020) in support of US protests following the murder of George Floyd were the scene of heavy handed policing which resulted in clashes with anti-racism protesters and mounted police charging crowds.

The Metropolitan police reported that 24 of their officers had been injured over the week’s protests with 14 apparently injured in yesterday’s events.

No figures were provided on how many protesters were injured as a result of police action. Police confirmed a number of arrests had been made however.

Thousands took part in yesterday’s demonstration with protesters gathering in Parliament Square in the afternoon. There were no reported clashes earlier in the day prior to the events outside Downing Street in the evening.

Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick described the clashes as “shocking and completely unacceptable” and lauded her own officers for their “extreme patience and professionalism”.

However many protestors were questioning why heavy cavalry and riot police were in attendance at the peaceful demonstrations in the first instance. A number of demonstrators suggested that the police had been responsible for provoking the clashes which led to missiles being thrown at the police guarding Downing Street.

In footage circulating online and on social media, mounted officers are seen charging at speed through a crowd only for one officer to collide with a set traffic lights and be thrown from her horse. The riderless police horse is then seen to bolt throw the densely crowded streets.

Glenn Wigham, the YCL London District Campaigns Officer said, “at a time of international condemnation over police brutality in the USA over the death of George Floyd, police closer to home have also demonstrated disregard in allowing Londoners to exercise their democratic right to peaceful protest. A heavy police presence on marches creates unnecessary tension and riot-clad officers, mounted on top of armoured horses only exacerbates that feeling.”

He continued, “Once again, we are witnessing scenes reminiscent of the Poll Tax riots and those after the Conservative party election victory in 2010 on the streets of London. Communities have had enough – people have endured austerity for far too long. It’s little surprise there’s no love for police at marches when they visibly represent the tools of oppression used by a racist, working-class hating state to keep voices from speaking out.”

A further rally is due to be held today outside the US Embassy in Battersea, south-west London.

A number of other demonstrations were held across Britain yesterday with more planned for today, with thousands in attendance in most major towns and cities.

Comment

The Met Police’s heavy handed use of horses and riot gear flies in the face of claims from centrists and liberals of the supposed fairness and restraint of police in Britain. As in the US, the police here seek to protect the interests of the ruling class and are more than willing to use force against the strength of working class unity.

Similarly, without the video footage of the police officer crashing into a traffic light, it is more than likely that protesters would have been blamed for their injuries. This has happened countless times in the US and we must demand accountability for those who seek to spread disunity in the name of the status quo.

Challenge News Desk

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