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Fears of London Violence Prompt Calls to Avoid Weekend Protests

London authorities boarded up historic statues across the U.K. capital, with both Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan urging demonstrators not to turn out to protest for fear of violence.

© Photographer: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images Europe  LONDON, ENGLAND - 12 JUNE: A Black Lives Matter supporters gather in Trafalgar Square after marching from Hyde Park on June 12, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. The death of an African American man, George Floyd, while in the custody of Minneapolis police has sparked protests across the United States, as well as demonstrations of solidarity in many countries around the world. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

By Andrew Davis, Bloomberg

London authorities boarded up historic statues across the U.K. capital, with both Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan urging demonstrators not to turn out to protest for fear of violence.

One of the U.K.’s main Black Lives Matter groups said it would no longer support a planned anti-racism protest on Saturday after reports that right-wing groups planned to descend on the city to protect statues they see as possible targets for demonstrators. Authorities ordered historic statues of figures ranging from wartime leader Winston Churchill to Nelson Mandela to be boarded up to protect against vandalism.

Johnson urged people to stay away from central London, but said it was “absurd and shameful” to cover the Churchill statue in Parliament Square. “We cannot now try to edit or censor our past,” he said.

The social justice protests in the U.K. in the wake of the killing of George Floyd have been been hijacked by a “growing minority,” the premier said, who are using them “as a pretext to attack the police to cause violence, and to cause damage to public property.”

More than 60 police officers have been injured in clashes with anti-racism protesters in recent weeks and there have been more than 130 arrests, the Press Association reported, citing the National Police Chiefs’ Council.

Concern about statues of historic figures who may have racist pasts was heightened after protesters in the city of Bristol last weekend toppled the statue of 17th-century slave trader Edward Colston and dumped it into the harbor there.

The Churchill statue “is a permanent reminder of his achievement in saving this country -- and the whole of Europe -- from a fascist and racist tyranny,” Johnson said.

In a video posted on Twitter, Khan said that he stands with the millions of people around the world who support Black Lives Matter, but that right-wing groups taking to the streets meant that the “risk of disorder was high” as their aim was provoking violence. The best response was “staying home and ignoring them.”

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dearJulius.com News | Breaking News, US News, World News: Fears of London Violence Prompt Calls to Avoid Weekend Protests
Fears of London Violence Prompt Calls to Avoid Weekend Protests
London authorities boarded up historic statues across the U.K. capital, with both Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan urging demonstrators not to turn out to protest for fear of violence.
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