The protests coincided with the U.K.’s 76th D-Day anniversary, the beach landings that served as an important turning point during World War II for the Allied forces. As the protests in support of the Black Lives Matter escalated into violence, vandals attacked the statue of Winston Churchill, the wartime prime minister who fought both Nazis and Fascists, daubing his plinth with the words “[Churchill] was a racist.”
On Monday, five members of Parliament helped remove the graffiti. Lee Anderson, a conservative MP who was part of the clean-up, chided the protests, saying that it is unacceptable for “thugs and yobbos turn around and try to disrupt public order.”
“It’s thanks to [Churchill] that we’ve not got a different statue there … it could have been a fascist dictator stood there today and there could be swastikas flying,” Anderson added.
In London’s Whitehall district, around 22 officers were injured after they were pelted with bottles, fireworks and smoke bombs; footage posted on Twitter revealed a mob chasing officers down the streets.
Even the Cenotaph – the U.K.’s official national war memorial – was not spared from vandalism. In addition, one demonstrator climbed onto the Cenotaph and tried to set the Union Jack on fire.
In addition, demonstrations at Downing Street, where the office of the prime minister is located, also turned chaotic as protesters acted violently toward officers. In a statement, the Met said that it had made arrests for disruption to public order and criminal damage in relation to last weekend’s riots.
In response to the violence-marred protests, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “People have a right to protest peacefully and while observing social distancing but they have no right to attack the police. These demonstrations have been subverted by thuggery – and they are a betrayal of the cause they purport to serve. Those responsible will be held to account.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan echoed the prime minister’s statements, calling the so-called pockets of violence “unacceptable.”
“I stand with you and share your anger and pain. George Floyd’s brutal killing must lead to immediate and lasting change in countries, cities, police services and institutions everywhere. But this vital cause was badly let down by a tiny minority who turned violent and threw glass bottles and lit flares, endangering other protestors and injuring police officers,” he added. (Related: PSYOP? George Floyd “death” was faked by crisis actors to engineer revolutionary riots, video authors say.)
For his part, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage also accused the Black Lives Matter movement of “unpicking history,” comparing their actions last weekend to that of the Taliban.
BLM protesters tore down the statue of 17th-century philanthropist Edward Colston in Bristol on Sunday over his ties to slavery. The mob used ropes to bring down the statue from its plinth, sprayed it with red paint, dragged it through the city streets to the harbor, where they threw it into the water.
The police, who looked on as the protesters toppled the statue and rolled it into the harbor, said that holding their ground was a “tactical decision” and that trying to intervene and prevent the crime would have escalated the situation.
In response to protests that upended England, the Brexit Party leader said the riots ushered in a “new form of the Taliban.”
The Taliban, or “students” in the Pashto language, is a hardline Islamic group that took over Afganistan in 1996. Under their law, the country was placed under a strict Islamic fundamentalist culture, which saw the destruction of the famous Bamiyan Buddhas in 2001. The group also blew up important statues in Palmyra, Syria in 2015 and 2017.
It’s also worth noting that during London’s riots, some demonstrators vandalized statues of historically respected figures of political movement, including Abraham Lincoln and Mahatma Gandhi.