BLM demonstrations highlight national conflict

Police respond to BLM protests

BLM demonstrations highlight national conflict

The murder of George Floyd, an African-American man who was killed in police custody, has sparked anti-racism protests led by the Black Lives Matter movement worldwide. Despite the overwhelming show of support and solidarity, these demonstrations have also highlighted a stark conflict in opinion in the UK.

A number of peaceful anti-racism protests have been held in London and around the country.

Several took place this Saturday.

But there are concerns that potential breaches of social distancing might cause a second outbreak of Covid-19.

Demonstrators have taken to social media to respond to such concerns, with many highlighting the limited criticism of the thousands of Britons who flocked to the UK’s beaches and failed to social distance when restrictions were first eased.

Protestors for the Black Lives Matter campaign have also been met with criticism after a number of statues were damaged during demonstrations.

These include one of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol, and one of Winston Churchill in London.

One demonstrator climbed the Cenotaph and attempted to set fire to a Union Jack flag.

Rumours circulated that the Cenotaph itself had been vandalised. The Met Police responded to these claims, saying:

“We are aware of incorrect social media rumours of damage being caused to the Cenotaph during protests in Whitehall.

“We are not aware of any damage.”

A statue of Jamaican poet, playwright and actor Alfred Fagon was also damaged, seemingly in retaliation.

A charity which runs institutions named after Edward Colston says it is “right” his statue has been removed.

In London, more than 100 people were arrested yesterday following violent protests, after thousands of far-right activists gathered, saying there were there to protect statues, the Met Police has confirmed.

One veteran expressed concern that their right to attend and peacefully defend monuments had been skewed by the violent thugs who have taken advantage of the situation.

There have been cases of this far-right minority of anti-protestors being arrested for violent offences against police officers, such as in Cleethorpes.

PM Boris Johnson responded saying:

“Racist thuggery has no place on our streets.

“These marches and protests have been subverted by violence and breach current guidelines. Racism has no part in the UK and we must work together to make that a reality.”

An investigation is also under way after one such activist was seen urinating next to a memorial of PC Keith Palmer, who was killed in the 2017 Westminster attack.

Police in riot gear have continued to clash with protestors and anti-protestors at some of the larger marches such as in London.

London Ambulance Service said it had treated 15 patients, including two police officers, for injuries at the protests.

“Six of these patients – all members of the public – have now been taken to hospital,” a spokesperson added.

Many now feel that due to the circumstances and the minority on both sides who have resorted to violence, the message may have been lost.

What do you think?

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