Police in London are ordering people joining Black Lives Matter protests today to be off the streets by 5pm over worries of far-right groups flooding into the capital, causing conflict, and statues in Parliament Square have been boarded up to protect them from attacks.
Sadiq Khan has said the Met Police had obtained intelligence that far-right groups are planning to hijack rallies today, June 13, and damage monuments of black and Asian statesmen like Nelson Mandela.
The Mayor of London has warned people to stay away from Black Lives Matter protests scheduled for Saturday, warning that confrontations between right-wing and anti-racist protests could turn violent, and also boost the spread of coronavirus.
In an attempt to avoid a repeat of last week’s violent clashes with police, protesters have been told they must stick to the planned route that will run from Hyde Park to Whitehall, and then disperse by 5pm.
he force fear the anti-racism protests – that were sparked by the death of George Floyd in the US last month – could be hijacked by counter-demonstrations by far-right groups.
The 46-year-old African American died after a police officer held him down by pressing a knee into his neck in Minneapolis on May 25, provoking riots in many US cities and demonstrations across the world.
On Saturday, those affiliated to the Black Lives Matter protests must remain north of a police barrier erected on Whitehall, while far-right protesters must remain to the south of the line.
Organisers of one demonstration planned for Saturday cancelled the event over fears of conflict with far-right protesters, but the Met think thousands of people will still attend.
The conditions were set under section 12 of the Public Order Act.
On Friday, statues in Parliament Square including Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi were boarded up to prevent them being targeted by either side.
The Met said numerous protest groups have advertised their intention to gather in central London on Saturday, 13 June, including Black Lives Matter, right wing and left wing affiliated groups.
Commander Bas Javid said: “I absolutely understand why people want to make their voices heard – there is a really strong depth of feeling out in the communities, but the Government direction is that we remain in a health pandemic and people are asked not to gather in large groups.
“By doing so, you are putting your own safety, and that of your family or friends at risk. We are asking you not to come to London, and let your voices be heard in other ways.”
Last week, the statue of the UK’s war-time prime minister memorial was defaced with the words “was a racist”.
Anti-racism group Hope Not Hate has said football gangs from West Ham, Chelsea, Millwall, Sheffield Wednesday, Hull and Spurs are among the groups planning on coming to London.
Far right group Britain First has also said its members will attend.
On Friday, Boris Johnson expressed his dismay at the growing focus on removing statues in the wake of the toppling of the memorial to slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol on June 7.
More than 60 other statues are now listed as targets on a website called Topple the Racists.
The Prime Minister said to take statues down would “be to lie about our history”.
Mr Johnson, in a series of social media posts, said: “We cannot pretend to have a different history.
“Those statues teach us about our past, with all its faults.”