London braces for chaos as hooligans threaten clashes with BLM

London braces for chaos as far-right thugs among pro-statue activists threaten clashes with BLM protesters forcing police to enforce 5pm curfew – as thousands are due to join mass action in 13 UK sites

  • Hooligan groups raised a call to arms this morning for supporters to flock to the capital during BLM protests 
  • Democratic Football Lads Alliance is rallying ‘football lads, patriots, veterans and people who just love Britain’ 
  • Scotland Yard has imposed a 5pm curfew on the demonstration and warned its officers will make arrests 
  • Police are desperate to keep control of London’s streets after last weekend’s peaceful protest was hijacked 

Black Lives Matter protests threaten to spiral into violence later today as football hooligans and far-right thugs travel to London to defend targeted statues.

Hooligan groups raised a call to arms this morning for supporters to flock to the capital at the same time George Floyd demonstrators are marching on Whitehall.

The Democratic Football Lads Alliance, which is rallying ‘football lads, patriots, veterans and people who just love their country’, insists it is not forming a counter-protest but is instead on a ‘protection mission’.  

Yet anti-racism campaigners claim many are simply spoiling for a fight, which has led BLM coordinators to advise activists to stay away for fear of the demonstration exploding into a ‘race war’.

But police are still bracing for large crowds to take to the streets, as they did yesterday in Trafalgar Square despite pleas from Boris Johnson not to attend for fear of spreading coronavirus.

Scotland Yard is desperate to keep control of London after last weekend’s largely peaceful protest was hijacked by pockets of violence, which targeted constables.

Police chiefs have imposed a 5pm curfew on the demonstration and warned that officers are ready to make arrests.

Rallies are also planned in other cities across the UK,  including Newcastle, Liverpool, Southport, Tamworth, Shrewsbury, Barry, Reading, Slough, Croydon, Chelmsford, Kings Lynn and Hemel Hempstead. 

Nick Knowles, from Hope Not Hate, this morning told BBC Today : ‘If you look whose planning to come into London today, you have seasoned football hooligans… BNP protesters. 

‘You have some who are concerned about statues, but others who are looking for a fight and have openly said this on their social media channels.’

Denise Richards, one of the organisers of the recent wave of BLM protests, said many activists would avoid London today for fear of violent clashes.

She said: ‘No I won’t be coming to London, initially that was the plan but hearing what the far right were planning to do, for our chapter it was a non-starter.

Asked why she was backing off, she added: ‘If we don’t give into threats, people will lose their lives… I just don’t think it’s worth us losing our lives.’ 

In further developments: 

  • Priti Patel called on the mayor to uncover the bronze sculpture immediately. ‘We should free Churchill, a hero of our nation, who fought against fascism and racism in this country and Europe,’ said the Home Secretary.
  • Churchill’s grandson, Nicholas Soames, said covering up his statue in Parliament Square was a national humiliation. 
  • Police said they could face a ‘perfect storm’ today after a network of football hooligans and extremists said they would rally to ‘defend’ national monuments. 
  • In an attempt to diffuse tensions, the campaign group Black Lives Matter urged supporters not to travel to the capital in case they came under attack. 
  • More than a dozen anti-racist marches are scheduled to take place across the country today. Bolton Council’s leader has ordered a two-metre steel fence to be built around the town’s cenotaph over fears it could be targeted. 
  • Dozens of town halls are reviewing the status of monuments after a statue of 17th century slave trader Edward Colston was toppled in Bristol last weekend and thrown into the harbour. 
  • Sadiq Khan has also ordered protection for monuments to Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi in Parliament Square and to George Washington and King James II in Trafalgar Square. 

A protective covering surrounding the statue of former British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill in Parliament Square, London

Activists, some wearing face coverings or face masks as a precautionary measure against COVID-19, hold placards as they attend a Black Lives Matter protest at Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square yesterday

Construction workers fence the equestrian statue of Charles I at Charing Cross against possible defacement by the Black Lives Matter protesters in London

The statue of Nelson Mandela in Parliament Square, London, is boarded up following a raft of Black Lives Matter protests that took place across the UK last weekend

Workers assemble scaffolding around the statue of Robert Clive in Whitehall, in anticipation of further protests tomorrow

The statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Parliament Square, London, is boarded up following a raft of Black Lives Matter protests took place across the UK last weekend

Thousands of Black Lives Matter protesters turned out in London today despite Boris Johnson’s calls to abandon demonstrations

Imarn Ayton, one of the coordinators who last week gave a speech alongside Star Wars actor John Boyega, this morning urged BLM activists not to come for to avoid the rally exploding into a ‘race war’.

She told BBC Today: ‘I think everyone is very worried about any type of race war that could occur because that takes away from what we’re trying to achieve, which is abolishing institutional racism and a massive war on a Saturday because of far-right takes away everything we’re trying to achieve over the last week.’

Senior police officers have warned that any violence ‘will not be tolerated’ amid fears of clashes with pro-statue protesters who are also due to gather in the capital to defend’ monuments. 

Police fear they could potentially face a ‘perfect storm’ of people looking to defend the statues alongside football hooligans from the Democratic Football Lads Alliance and far-right group Britain First. However Tommy Robinson, who previously said he would attend the demonstration, has now said he will not be there.

The BLM route mandated by police starts at Hyde Park and goes to Park Lane, Hyde Park Corner, Piccadilly, Piccadilly Circus, Haymarket, Cockspur Street, Trafalgar Square before finishing in Whitehall, north of the police barrier.

Conditions imposed by Met Police, mean that a number of the statues in Parliament Square -including Winston Churchill’s – will only be accessible to pro-statue protesters. 

Right-wing groups will have to assemble in Parliament Square and Whitehall, and must remain south of the police barrier. 

Met Police commander Bas Javid has warned that ‘violence’ and ‘criminal behaviour against our officers’ will ‘not be tolerated.’

Scotland Yard also warned protesters to reconsider attending today due to the coronavirus pandemic, with concerns mass gatherings could help contribute to a second wave of the disease.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan pushed ahead last night with protecting historical monuments in the city by boarding up Gandhi, Charles I, Robert Clive and Nelson Mandela just a day after Winston Churchill and the Cenotaph were protected after fears they could be vandalised or damaged in the protests today.

Despite there being little trouble at yesterday’s protest, it came in defiance of the Prime Minister who earlier said that anti-racism protests in the UK had been ‘hijacked by extremists intent on violence’.

He said it was ‘absurd and shameful’ that a statue of Sir Winston Churchill was ‘at risk of attack’ by protesters and ‘the only responsible course of action is to stay away from these protests’. 

Met Police 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. 

What other protests are planned? 

Saturday: Newcastle, Liverpool, Southport, Tamworth, Shrewsbury, Barry, Reading, Slough, Croydon, Chelmsford, Kings Lynn and Hemel Hempstead.

Sunday:  Leeds, Chesham and Telford.

 

‘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.

‘We all saw the crowds that came together last weekend, and the demonstration on the whole was peaceful and reinforced the legitimacy of feelings within our communities.

‘However on both days, there was a minority intent on disorder, which resulted in incidents of violence and criminal behaviour, and assaults against our officers. This cannot be tolerated.’

It comes police allowed thousands of Black Lives Matter protesters to file through central London lsast night. Demonstrators made their way to Trafalgar Square from Hyde Park freely. But police nabbed two ‘known’ activists who were wanted for questioning over previous protests. 

Meanwhile Mayor Sadiq Khan was last night accused of caving in to mob by covering up Winston Churchill’s statue. Priti Patel called on the mayor to uncover the bronze sculpture immediately. ‘We should free Churchill, a hero of our nation, who fought against fascism and racism in this country and Europe,’ said the Home Secretary. 

Mr Khan defended his decision, insisting that ‘prevention is better than the cure’. His allies said Mr Johnson oversaw the boarding-up of Parliament Square statues three times as mayor.

It comes as police chiefs have slammed Priti Patel after she called for a clampdown on Black Lives Matters protesters. One chief constable told The Times that her demands were a ‘chilling abuse of power’. 

Around 20 officers moved through large crowds of peaceful protesters sitting on the grass to seize a demonstrator today and escort him to nearby police vans

People wearing masks and holding signs participate in a Black Lives Matter protest march in Park Lane, London earlier today

Activists, some wearing face coverings or face masks as a precautionary measure against COVID-19, hold placards as they attend a Black Lives Matter protest march as it passes in front of Buckingham Palace today

Campaigners march down London’s Park Line today, some holding skateboards marked with BLM (Black Lives Matter)

Activists held up signs as they protested in the capital today in response to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month

Demonstrators hold signs as they march during a Black Lives Matter protest in London, following the death of George Floyd

A man shouts into a megaphone today during the latest Black Lives Matter protest in London in response to the death of George Floyd

A Black Lives Matter supporter wearing a face mask and face shield raises his fist during a sit down gathering in London today

A Black Lives Matter speaker talks to crowds near Speaker’s Corner in London’s Hyde Park where a sit down gathering was held today

Demonstrators gesture during a Black Lives Matter protest in London today, following the death of George Floyd who died in police custody in Minneapolis

Activists, some wearing face coverings or face masks as a precautionary measure against COVID-19, hold placards as they attend a Black Lives Matter protest at the base of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square

Demonstrators hold up signs as they march during a Black Lives Matter protest in London, following the death of George Floyd

At Friday’s protest a huge security alert was in operation to protect historic statues from being damaged and several including that of Sir Winston Churchill were boarded up.

Officers, who could have arrested more protesters for breaking social distancing rules and illegally assembling, let the crowds move into Trafalgar Square.

Despite there being little trouble, riot police were on standby aware that tensions remained high and of the previous violence over the past week.

The Prime Minister had declared that anti-racism protests in the UK had been ‘hijacked by extremists intent on violence’.

He said it was ‘absurd and shameful’ that a statue of Sir Winston Churchill was ‘at risk of attack’ by protesters and ‘the only responsible course of action is to stay away from these protests’.

Meanwhile, police officers were booed and had obscenities shouted at them as they moved in to detain two of the protesters in Hyde Park yesterday afternoon.

Around 20 officers moved through peaceful protesters sitting on the grass to seize suspected activists thought to be behind disorder at previous protests, including an anti Capitalist demo in London’s stock exchange in February.

A man in a black top and baseball cap was among those led away as members of the crowd started to gather around the officers but who were then warned to be peaceful by one of the protest organisers on loudspeaker. 

A spokesman for City of London Police said: ‘The individuals arrested by the Metropolitan Police today are wanted by the City of London Police for matters unrelated to their activity at any of the Black Lives Matter protests.

‘As it is an ongoing police investigation we can’t provide any more details.’  

Protesters holding up an array on banners 

A protester wearing a mask holding up a sign saying ‘racism is the pandemic’ as the march progressed through central London

Protesters holding placards and signs walk through central London today making their feelings heard about the death of George Floyd

Protesters take part in a Black Lives Matter march in London. Protesters gathered to express their feelings in regard to the death of 46-year old George Floyd while in police custody

Activists, some wearing face coverings or face masks as a precautionary measure against COVID-19, hold placards as they attend a Black Lives Matter protest at the base of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square

Protesters take part in a Black Lives Matter march. Protesters gathered to express their feelings in regard to the death of 46-year old George Floyd while in police custody

A demonstrator gestures during a Black Lives Matter protest in Trafalgar Square, following the death of George Floyd who died in police custody in Minneapolis

Black Lives Matter supporters march down Park Lane towards Trafalgar Square this afternoon as part of another protest

Black Lives Matter supporters speak to police and drive their van at Marble Arch to lead a march towards Trafalgar Square today

People participate in a Black Lives Matter protest rally in Trafalgar Square, London today and hold up a number of placards saying ‘Black Lives Matter’

Activists, some wearing face coverings or face masks as a precautionary measure against COVID-19, hold placards as they attend a Black Lives Matter protest

Activists, some wearing face coverings or face masks as a precautionary measure against COVID-19, hold placards as they attend a Black Lives Matter protest at the base of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square

Demonstrators hold up signs as they march during a Black Lives Matter protest in London, following the death of George Floyd

Activists, some wearing face coverings or face masks as a precautionary measure against COVID-19, hold placards as they attend a Black Lives Matter protest

A demonstrator gestures during a Black Lives Matter protest in Trafalgar Square, this afternoon during the protest

People participating in a Black Lives Matter protest rally in Trafalgar Square, London this afternoon

An elderly Irish man sits with a Black Lives Matter protester in Parliament Square this afternoon during a Black Lives Matter protest

Black Lives Matter supporters are seen during a rally in Trafalgar Square this afternoon ahead of more planned protests this weekend

Amid fears of clashes with right-wing thugs, nervous police watched on as protesters left Hyde Park and marched past the boarded-up statue of Sir Winston Churchill and the Cenotaph.

Fortunately Parliament Square was free of any counter-demonstration meaning that Black Lives Matter protesters, who had been chanting ‘f*** Tommy Robinson, marched past the statue without any provocation.

They continued down Whitehall past Downing Street and the Cenotaph, also boarded up, and on to Trafalgar Square.

Police riot vans and the Met’s helicopter followed the crowd as officers kept a watchful eye for any potential problems.

However, a crowd of about 1500 filed into Trafalgar Square without any of the violence which marred protests last week.  

Protesters stood on the plinth of Nelson’a Column and on steps around the fountain in the middle of the square listening to speeches.

A graffitied white work van, driven by some of the protesters, parked up beside one of the famous lions and protest organisers began addressing the crowd through loud speakers.

Police officers, standing in pairs, watched on from the side as the chopper continued to buzz overhead.

The protest began at Hyde Park at 3pm and had been brought forward from tomorrow to avoid clashing with right-wing activists, a group called the Democratic Football Lads Alliance and army veterans who are understood to be heading London over the weekend.

Tommy Robinson vowed in a video posted on social media last weekend that he would be visiting the capital on Saturday to ensure the city’s historical monuments were protected.

It followed trouble at BLM demos over the weekend in which protesters scrawled graffiti over the Churchill statue, branding him a racist, and vandalised the Cenotaph, which one yob scaled and tried to set the Union flag alight.

During a sit-down in Hyde Park earlier this afternoon, BLM organisers told about 500 people gathered that the event tomorrow was off and to instead protest in their own areas.  

The Prime Minister said earlier the Met Police have made ‘hundreds’ of arrests following attacks on officers, buildings and statues in the past ten days as Scotland Yard vowed to go on ‘the front foot’ to tackle violent protesters after Home Secretary Priti Patel read them the ‘riot act’ over their tactics.

In a stark warning amid concerns London could be engulfed by a summer of riots, Mr Johnson said: ‘We should not support a protest, which in all probability looking at what has happened before, is going to end in deliberate and calculated violence. 

He said a ‘growing minority’ of troublemakers had ‘hijacked’ the BLM protests ‘as a pretext to attack the police, to cause violence and to cause damage to public property’. 

He said: ‘I saw the police this morning and they have already made hundreds of arrests in the last few days and will make many more. Because believe me they can see the culprits – they may think they’ve got away with it but they haven’t because overwhelmingly they are being recorded and we will bring them to justice.

‘And they will face the full force of the law because it is not acceptable in this country to attack a police officer. It is not acceptable to set out in a calculated way to do damage to public property, let alone a statue of Winston Churchill’.  

It came after he blasted ‘absurd and shameful’ attacks on the statue of Sir Winston and said the UK ‘cannot lie about its history’ as Sadiq Khan was accused of ‘surrendering’ the capital’s streets ‘to the mob’ after he ordered the boarding up of the monument to Britain’s greatest prime minister and the nearby Cenotaph.  This afternoon statues of Gandhi and Nelson Mandela are expected to be boarded up while Abraham Lincoln has been fenced off. 

In an extraordinary Twitter outburst this morning, Mr Johnson slammed those who want to topple the Churchill statue and said: ‘The statue of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square is a permanent reminder of his achievement in saving this country – and the whole of Europe – from a fascist and racist tyranny’.

He added: ‘It is absurd and shameful that this national monument should today be at risk of attack by violent protesters. Yes, he sometimes expressed opinions that were and are unacceptable to us today, but he was a hero, and he fully deserves his memorial’. 

While Mr Johnson didn’t mention Sadiq Khan in his tweets, they were sent after a phalanx of Tory MPs slammed the Mayor of London for boarding up monuments instead of using police officers to form a ring of steel around them and arrest anyone who tries to attack them. 

It comes as a statue of Victorian-era prime minister Sir Robert Peel has been boarded up – after being temporarily fenced off.

Tamworth Borough Council in Staffordshire said the precautions were being taken despite Sir Robert, known as the father of modern policing, having been opposed to slavery.

Anti-racism campaigners have been accused of mistakenly targeting the prime minister who served between 1834-35 and 1841-1846 – after apparently confusing him with his father.

The leader of Tamworth Borough Council, Daniel Cook said: ‘Given the current national focus on memorials, including statues of Robert Peel, we feel it necessary to take extra precautions to protect Tamworth’s 167-year-old Peel monument for the time being and fence it off.

‘The Tamworth MP and former prime minister Robert Peel depicted in the Tamworth statue was anti-slavery and supported its abolition, and it is widely felt he has been confused with his father, who opposed the Foreign Slave Trade Abolition Bill.

‘It is right we understand our history and historic figures, good and bad, and the removal of any monuments should be a calmer well-thought out debate.

‘But given the spotlight on this at the moment and the fact that some statues around the country have been vandalised recently, we feel these extra precautions are sadly necessary.

‘We support people’s rights to campaign and protest against those things in society they oppose, and certainly support the BLM campaign and any fight against inequality in society.’

Cllr Cook added: ‘However, we do not support criminal damage to our nation’s history through violence and vandalism, as has been seen in some parts of the country.’

The bronze statue was erected outside Tamworth’s Town Hall three years after Sir Robert’s death in 1850, and was given listed status in 1972.

Local MP Christoper Pincher, who has described Sir Robert as a progressive statesman, said anti-racism campaigners had ‘got the wrong Peel’.

Alongside a photograph of the boarded-up statue, Mr Pincher tweeted: ‘Tamworth’s Robert Peel statue being covered to protect it from agitators who can’t get their history right.

‘The Council is doing this because of the threat to the statue and man of whom we are all proud. These threats help no one, but distract from a message of peaceful protest.’ 


In a string of tweets sent after Sadiq Khan boarded up monuments, the Prime Minister defended the statue of Churchill and Britain’s history and slammed the minority of BLM protesters who attacked police telling them to stay away this weekend

Police removed a man in cuffs who is alleged to have caused trouble at previous protests in London as Boris Johnson promised they would be picked off

Amid growing public anger, Home Secretary Priti Patel has been forced to ‘read the riot act’ to police ordering them to do more to tackle violent protesters – as she pushed for 24-hour fast-track courts like those seen in 2011 riots that swept through urban Britain. 

‘We cannot allow mob rule’: Furious Priti Patel is ‘reading the riot act’ to police ‘across the country’ ordering them to tackle violent protesters – as she pushes for 24-hour fast-track courts like those seen in 2011 riots 

 Priti Patel was praised for taking a stand against ‘mob rule’ today as she drew up swift justice plans to deal with protesters who assault police, vandalise property or cause criminal damage.

The Home Secretary and Justice Secretary Robert Buckland are plotting a response to anti-racism protests, based on the response to the 2011 London riots, urging magistrates’ courts to extend opening hours and fast-track any cases relating to protests.

It comes amid fears that the capital and other cities will again see mass demonstrations against racial prejudice in Britain, despite warnings to obey coronavirus restrictions.

 Mayor of London Sadiq Khan today urged Black Lives Matter supporters to ‘stay at home’ hours after they cancelled their planned Hyde Park protest tomorrow claiming that ‘many hate groups’ are threatening the safety of the thousands of supporters planning to attend. 

But statues of historical figures like Winston Churchill, and even the Cenotaph, have been boarded up to prevent them being targeted.

The Home Secretary and other ministers does not have the power to order protesters to be arrested and charged, as that is an independent matter for the police and Crown Prosecution Service. 

But Tory MP Bob Blackman told MailOnline  the Home Secretary was urging police to use the extensive powers they have to ensure order.

‘She is reading the riot act, literally, to people up and down the country who are in charge,’ he said.

‘What we are considering now is the same rules that were operating in 2011 when we had riots and widespread looting. Those responsible were apprehended, charged processed through the courts and if found guilty imprisoned within 24 hours of the offence. That is what we need to do now.’

He added: ‘It is right that we review statues, monuments, plaques, street names… that is perfectly reasonable in a democratic society. 

‘But you should not allow mob rule to determine what is going to be displayed and what is not.’

And today the Metropolitan Police have said they will be on the ‘front foot’ to tackle violence directed at officers or property tomorrow following serious disorder at anti-racism protests last weekend.

Commander Bas Javid, whose younger brother, former Chancellor Sajid Javid, has called the boarding of monuments ‘depressing’, said this afternoon: ‘We will learn from what happened last weekend. It’s accepted that a very, very small minority of people were intent on causing and engaging in violence.

‘We absolutely don’t condone that, violence of any kind, particularly against police officers, particularly against property, and we’ll be ready for that. Our most valuable tactic is to speak to people, make sure they understand the risks but also what they can do to make sure we have a peaceful demonstration.’ Mr Javid said both Black Lives Matter protesters and right-wing groups will be dealt with using the same tactics. 

Boris Johnson chose to weigh in as the campaign to topple 100-plus ‘racist’ statues raced on and growing public anger that councils, schools and museums are pulling down monuments without consultation.  

The PM said in his gale of tweets: ‘We cannot now try to edit or censor our past. We cannot pretend to have a different history. The statues in our cities and towns were put up by previous generations. They had different perspectives, different understandings of right and wrong. But those statues teach us about our past, with all its faults. To tear them down would be to lie about our history, and impoverish the education of generations to come’.  

Sadiq Khan today defended his decision to board the statues, saying the Met were also involved, and said: ‘I have decided that the best thing to do is to take precautions rather than there be further criminal damage and vandalism to our statues. There will be others boarded up through the course of the day and this evening’. He did not say when they would be uncovered again.

Tory backbencher Andre Bridgen slammed the police tactics employed over the past fortnight and told MailOnline: ‘That’s not policing, that’s spectating. If the rule of law is ignored it undermines the whole of our democratic system, which is exactly what the extreme elements want to do. It cannot be allowed to continue’. 

He added: ‘Churchill’s famous words ‘We will never surrender’ are completely undermined by Mayor Khan’s appeasement of the mob. It’s a national humiliation. Khan must resign and so should Met Commissioner Cressida Dick’. Nigel Farage also called the situation: ‘Surrender to the mob’. 

As debate rages over the future of many of Britain’s most famous monuments, it has also emerged:

  • Critics line up to slam Sadiq Khan’s decision to board up statues as Mayor of London says more will be closed off;
  • Furious Priti Patel is ‘reading the riot act’ to police ‘across the country’ ordering them to tackle violent protesters – as she pushes for 24-hour fast-track courts like those seen in 2011 riots 
  • TV channels rush to pull shows that could offend as John Cleese slams ‘stupid’ UKTV decision to remove the classic ‘Germans’ episode of Fawlty Towers;
  • Stephen Lawrence’s brother Stuart, 43,  backs BLM marchers but says ‘violence is not the answer’;
  • Suffolk Police forced to apologise after demanding middle-aged black couple provide ID for ‘driving a motor vehicle on a road’ and accuse them of ‘jumping on the bandwagon’ when they get upset;

Boris Johnson spoke out about tomorrow’s BLM his visit to the UK Biocentre in Milton Keynes today

Boris Johnson today blasted ‘absurd and shameful’ attacks on the statue of Sir Winston Churchill and said the UK ‘cannot lie about its history’ as Sadiq Khan was accused of ‘surrendering’ the capital’s streets ‘to the mob’ after he ordered the boarding up of the monument to Britain’s greatest prime minister and the nearby Cenotaph 

A statue of Winston Churchill that looks on to Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament is totally hidden from view this morning after it was graffitied last weekend 

Six Penny Lane signs including one signed by Sir Paul McCartney are vandalised  

Emmett O’Neill cleans a road sign for Penny Lane, made famous by The Beatles

Six road signs in Liverpool’s Penny Lane have been vandalised after speculation over whether it was named after a slave trader.

Four signs on the road, made famous by The Beatles song of the same name, were spray-painted over on Friday morning, with the word ‘racist’ painted on the wall above one sign.

By midday, the graffiti had been cleaned off by residents Emmett O’Neill and Lucy Comerford.

Ms Comerford said: ‘Penny Lane is very much a community and this is just absolutely disgusting. It is just wrong.’

Mr O’Neill said: ‘Defacing Penny Lane signs is not going to change a lot. I just think it’s the wrong way to go about things.’

One of the signs featured an autograph by Sir Paul McCartney, who signed his name when he visited the area for an episode of James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke in 2018.

A screen placed over the sign to protect the signature meant it was not damaged by the graffiti.

Turning his fire on the BLM protesters who have injured 60 police officers in London in the past ten days, Mr Johnson said: it is clear that the protests have been sadly hijacked by extremists intent on violence. The attacks on the police and indiscriminate acts of violence which we have witnessed over the last week are intolerable and they are abhorrent’.

He added: As for the planned demonstrations, we all understand the legitimate feelings of outrage at what happened in Minnesota and the legitimate desire to protest against discrimination. Whatever progress this country has made in fighting racism – and it has been huge – we all recognise that there is much more work to do. The only responsible course of action is to stay away from these protests’. 

The Mayor of London today urged Black Lives Matter supporters to ‘stay at home’ hours after they cancelled their planned Hyde Park protest tomorrow claiming that ‘many hate groups’ are threatening the safety of the thousands of supporters planning to attend.    

Conservative MP Bob Blackman told MailOnline that the boarding up of statues is an ‘absolute disgrace’ and branded Mr Khan the ‘do nothing mayor’, adding ‘I’m appalled he’s lost control of our streets’.

After the toppling of the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol last weekend, police chiefs vowed to stop vandals damaging statues – but Martin Hewitt, the head of the National Police Chiefs Council, admitted officers may not stop statues being toppled if it puts them or the public in danger. He also urged councils and museums considering removing monuments to act before monuments are targeted by protestors, saying the matter should be resolved without police having to step in.

Sadiq Khan today asked all BLM protesters to stay at home this weekend to avoid clashes with the far-right, as well as to stop the spread of coronavirus. 

Mayor Khan tweeted: ‘To anyone planning to join #BlackLivesMatter ;protests over the coming days: for you and your families safety, please stay at home and find a safe way to make your voice heard. To the extreme far-right groups hijacking this crucial cause: Londoners have no time for your hatred’.

BLM has axed its Hyde Park rally and told supporters: ‘We want the protests to be a safe space for people to attend. However, we don’t think it will be possible with people like them present’.

But other anti-racism groups will still hold their own events in Central London tomorrow, including an ‘Anti-fascists support Black Lives Matter’ run by Labour’s far-left pressure group Momentum.  It raises the risk of violent clashes with Tommy Robinson and far-right groups planning their own counter-protests after pledging to ‘defend our memorials’ in Parliament Square tomorrow. 

Protesters raise their fists as they respond to the the death of George Floyd, in Minneapolis last week, by gathering in Hyde Park today

Another man was escorted away from the BLM protest as officers appeared to be scooping up people that may have been causing trouble over the past ten days

Plinth for Thatcher statue in home town still empty 

Furious campaigners who have fought for a statue of Margaret Thatcher in her home town insist it should still be erected despite fears it will be torn down by protester backing the BLM movement.

Sixteen months after the controversial statue was finally approved by councillors in Grantham – the plinth on which it will stand still remains empty.

Following a decade of rows, the coronavirus is the latest in a long line of opponents who have delayed the arrival of a memorial to Baroness Thatcher in the Lincolnshire town where she grew up.

And as a debate rages across Britain about the suitability of various statues, there have been fresh calls for the £300,000 monument not to be erected.

Opponents of the ‘Iron Lady’ say she was a diversive figure and claim the statue will only attract vandals.

But outraged supporters insist the monument is a ‘fitting tribute’ and must be erected as planned.

Well over a year has now passed since councillors finally approved the privately funded statue for Britain’s first female Prime Minister, who famously lived above her father’s Grantham grocers store.

However, the statue remains in storage at a secret location and a date for the big unveiling has yet to be confirmed.

On Mayor Khan’s orders last night, scaffolding sprung up around Churchill, the Cenotaph on Whitehall and statues of George Washington and King James II on Trafalgar Square late on Thursday evening after concerns they could yet again be targeted by activists, with many of the monuments now completely hidden from view.

The monument to Britain’s greatest war-time leader was covered in graffiti last weekend that said Churchill ‘was a racist’ – but instead of police guarding the monument this weekend it has been boarded up instead. 

Last night the government said it is looking to introduce new rules which would mean protesters who assault police, vandalise property or cause criminal damage could face swift justice in just 24 hours to avert a summer of riots. 

The covering of British historical monuments prompted outrage last night. Jacob Young, Conservative MP for Redcar, said on Twitter it was ‘so sad that rioters can’t be trusted not to attack the cenotaph, so much so that they now feel the need to board it up’.

And Alexander Stafford, Tory MP for Rother Valley, said it was a ‘sad day’ for London that the Cenotaph had to be boarded up and that ‘those that want to attack this symbol of freedom and liberty make me deeply ashamed’.

Workers also boarded up the George Washington statue on Trafalgar Square, a statue to King James II and monuments of Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi.

The protests – sparked by the killing of George Floyd by US police officers – has ignited a discussion about Britain’s imperial past and historical figures associated with slavery and racism.

Last Sunday activists tore down the statue of 17th century slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol before dumping him in the city’s harbour. 

This action reverberated around the country with the removal of a string of monuments and statues, and London Mayor Sadiq Khan pledging the capital’s landmarks would be reviewed by a commission to ensure they reflect diversity.

A spokesman for the Mayor of London said: ‘The statue of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square is being temporarily covered for its protection.

‘The overwhelming majority of protests have been peaceful, but after recent damage the decision was taken by the GLA City Operations Unit to cover it.’

Dawn breaks at the Cenotaph, Britain’s memorial to its glorious war dead, was boarded up on Thursday evening in anticipating of further Black Lives Matter marches this weekend

Workmen have this morning arrived at Guy’s Hospital in London to begin boarding up a statue to its slave-trading founder Thomas Guy following pressure from Black Lives Matter protesters

Boards being put up around the statue of Sir Thomas Guy at Guy’s hospital in London, following a raft of Black Lives Matter protests. It will soon be removed

A contractor constructs a barrier around the statue of Sir Robert Clayton, who had links to the slave trade, at Guy’s and St Thomas Hospital in London

Fencing is put up around the Abraham Lincoln memorial in Parliament Square today ahead of BLM-related protests and counter-protests

Also outside the National Gallery, a statue of James II that looks upon Nelson’s Column is boarded up for its own protection


Scaffolders erect boarding around the George Washington statue on Trafalgar Square, London – yet another of the capital’s famous statues to be covered up

Security barriers are placed in Whitehall outside Downing Street, where protesters have repeatedly attacked police officers

Workmen have this morning arrived at Guy’s Hospital in London to begin boarding-up a statue to its slave-trading founder Thomas Guy following pressure from Black Lives Matter protesters.

Pieces of wood have today been erected around the statue, in Guy’s Courtyard, next to the intentionally-renowned hospital.

The workmen were seen arriving during a live broadcast from Good Morning Britain today and since have boarded-up most of the statue.

Hospital chiefs say they plan to remove it completely amid growing concerns it may be targeted by anti-racism protesters.

Yesterday The Guy’s and St Thomas’s hospital trust revealed on Twitter that the contentious monument of Guy will be next in a string of statues taken down over links to Britain’s historic slave trade.

Bookseller Guy made his fortune as a major shareholder in British slave-trafficking firm South Sea Company. He sold his shares for £250,00 – the equivalent of £400million in modern-day prices – and founded Guy’s Hospital near London Bridge in 1721.

A second statue depicting Robert Clayton will be taken down from St Thomas’s hospital – where Boris Johnson was admitted with coronavirus in April – near Westminster Bridge. Clayton was part of the Royal African Company who shipped African slaves to the Americas.

The hospitals are both part of the same trust.

A statue dedicated to the founder of the Scouting movement Robert Baden-Powell will remain in place, but instead will be boarded-up, as council chiefs look to protect it from protesters threatening to tear it down.

Civic chiefs had previously agreed to take down the 5ft tall bronze statue in Poole Quay amid fears it would be targeted by Black Lives Matter protesters.

But the proposal sparked an angry backlash from Scout leaders and members of the public who sought to protect it, including from two former Scouts, who camped overnight to ensure it wasn’t touched by council workmen or protests.

Last night bosses at Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council put 24-hour security in place to protect the statue.

Civic chiefs had previously agreed to take down the 5ft tall bronze statue in Poole Quay amid fears it would be targeted by Black Lives Matter protesters

 Two men have camped out next to the statue of Scout movement founder Robert Baden-Powell (pictured) in a bid to protect it from protesters

In a statement last night, Sadiq Khan also raised concerns over potential clashes between BLM protesters and far right groups. 

The 92 ‘racist’ statues BLM supporters would like to be destroyed

It comes after the Democratic Football Lads Alliance has called on supporters to travel to London to protect monuments.

Far-right figure Tommy Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, has also expressed his support.

Mr Khan said: ‘I’m extremely concerned that further protests in central London not only risk spreading Covid-19, but could lead to disorder, vandalism and violence.

‘Extreme far-right groups who advocate hatred and division are planning counter-protests, which means that the risk of disorder is high.

‘Be in no doubt these counter-protests are there to provoke violence, and their only goal is to distract and hijack this important issue.

‘Staying home and ignoring them is the best response this weekend.’

Last night it was revealed protesters who assault police, vandalise property or cause criminal damage could face swift justice in just 24 hours, under new plans being brought forward by the government.

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland and Home Secretary Priti Patel have drawn up new plans, based on the response to the 2011 London riots, urging magistrates’ courts to extend opening hours and fast-track any cases relating to protests. 

Tory MP Bob Blackman told MailOnline it was ‘outrageous’ that police were not challenging vandals threatening to take down historic statues.

‘I think we have to give absolute support to our police force in doing what they do very bravely against the mob. But they have got to do their part by defending people and property.’

Mr Blackman said the Home Secretary was urging police to use the extensive powers they have to ensure order.

‘She is reading the riot act, literally, to people up and down the country who are in charge,’ he said. ‘What we are considering now is the same rules that were operating in 2011 when we had riots and widespread looting. Those responsible were apprehended, charged processed through the courts and if found guilty imprisoned within 24 hours of the offence. That is what we need to do now.’

‘It is right that we review statues, monuments, plaques, street names.. that is perfectly reasonable in a democratic society. But you should not allow mob rule to determine what is going to be displayed and what is not.

‘When you have a position where Winston Churchill who led this country against the facscists, his statue is being defaced… I’m afraid as soon as that starts happening people need to stand up and say no. ‘The problem then becomes that if the police do not defend them then those that do want to defend them will. And then you get violent clashes.’

He said the Cenotaph commemorates those who ‘gave their lives so we can live in freedom’. ‘It is ironic that we are boarding up the Cenotaph for the threat of mob violence against it,’ he said.

Mr Blackman said law and order had to be maintained. ‘I want the PM, the Home Secretary and the Cabinet to be saying this very loud and very clear.’

‘Sadiq Khan is the do nothing mayor. He fails to keep London transport functioning, he bows to the unions on that. He fails to ensure safety on our streets and then complains to everyone else… it is his fault for failing to control things.’  

Violent protestors will be jailed within 24 hours of arrest under plans to prevent the Black Lives Matter demonstrations leading to a summer of disorder.

The fast-track prosecutions which the Justice Secretary, Robert Buckland, has reportedly given the green light to, are modelled on those used during the 2011 London riots.

Under the plans drawn up with Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, protestors arrested for assaulting police officers, criminal damage and vandalism will be put behind bars within 24 hours.

Mr Buckland has told magistrates to extend opening times in areas where there are protests and fast-track cases related to demonstrations, The Times reported. Weekend court sittings will also be available if there is a surge in the number of cases.

The Government will also publish a consultation on plans to double maximum sentences for assaulting emergency workers to two years.

Similar measures during riots in the capital in the summer of 2011 are credited by police with helping to take the momentum out of the disorder.

It comes as police chiefs have voiced their concerns about a summer of disorder.

Since the Black Lives Matter movement took hold in the UK some 137 people have been arrested and 62 police officers have been injured.

Police are also thought to be concerned about potential clashes between the anti-racism protestors and far-right counter groups

A ‘hit list’ of statues and memorials to some of Britain’s most famous figures has been created by an anti-racism group

Priti Patel last night accused Labour MPs of trying to ‘silence’ her after she spoke out about her personal experiences of racism.

John Cleese slams ‘stupid’ UKTV decision to remove Fawlty Towers ‘don’t mention the War’ episode 

John Cleese has slammed BBC-owned UKTV for removing an episode of Fawlty Towers which featured racist language.

The actor, 80, who played Basil Fawlty, branded the channel ‘stupid’ for not realising The Germans was mocking the Major’s use of the ‘n-word’.

The 1975 episode, fondly remembered for the line ‘don’t mention the War’, is the latest in a series of British programmes to be culled from streaming sites.

Little Britain was removed from Netflix, BBC iPlayer and BritBox and Ant and Dec issued an apology for ‘impersonating people of colour’ on Saturday Night Takeaway.

An episode of Fawlty Towers (pictured) from which the N-word and other offensive terms had previously been cut has been taken down from the BBC’s UKTV player. John Cleese (centre as Basil Fawlty) branded the channel ‘stupid’ for not realising it is mocking racist people

The 1975 episode titled The Germans – fondly remembered for the repeated line ‘don’t mention the war’ – is the latest in a series of British TV shows culled from streaming sites 

Speaking from his home in LA, Cleese told TheAge: ‘One of the things I’ve learned in the last 180 years is that people have very different senses of humour.

‘Some of them understand that if you put nonsense words into the mouth of someone you want to make fun of you’re not broadcasting their views, you’re making fun of them.’

He added: ‘The Major was an old fossil left over from decades before. We were not supporting his views, we were making fun of them. If they can’t see that, if people are too stupid to see that, what can one say?’

A UKTV spokesman said The Germans – which also sees Mr Fawlty offend German guests with Second World War references – was removed for review because it ‘contains racial slurs’.

 

The Home Secretary said earlier this week that she would ‘not take lectures’ on racism from the Opposition as she described how she was herself frequently subjected to abuse as a child.

It came after she condemned ‘mob rule’ that marred Black Lives Matter protests at which a Winston Churchill statue was vandalised. But dozens of ethnic minority Labour MPs yesterday seized on her comments to accuse her of playing down the ‘very real racism’ faced by black people.

In a letter to Miss Patel, they said being a ‘person of colour’ did not automatically make her an ‘authority’ on all forms of racism.

Miss Patel, the child of Gujarati Indian parents who fled to the UK from Uganda shortly before Idi Amin expelled all Asians from the country, said she would ‘not be silenced’.

Ministers and other senior Tories accused the Labour MPs of making ‘utterly misguided and irresponsible’ comments.

The letter to Miss Patel was sent by shadow minister for community cohesion Naz Shah and co-signed by more than 30 Labour MPs. It read: ‘We write to you as Black Asian and Ethnic Minority (BAME) Labour MPs to highlight our dismay at the way you used your heritage and experiences of racism to gaslight the very real racism faced by black people and communities in the UK.’ Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation designed to make someone doubt their own sanity.

Sharing the letter online yesterday, Miss Patel said: ‘I will not be silenced by Labour MPs who continue to dismiss the contributions of those who don’t conform to their view of how ethnic minorities should behave.’ 

One of Britain’s top police officers vowed yesterday that vandals damaging statues will face justice – but admitted officers may not stop them being toppled.

Last night there was mounting pressure on Avon and Somerset Police to make arrests over the tearing down of slave trader Edward Colston’s statue on Sunday. The momument was hauled out of Bristol Harbour early yesterday.

Martin Hewitt, the head of the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC), declared: ‘We will seek to bring people to justice’.

He said police will not tolerate attacks on public property, adding: ‘I’m really clear. If you go and damage a statue or a monument, or you try to steal a statue or a monument or you pull it down, then that is a criminal offence.

‘Then you should be dealt with for a criminal offence and we will investigate and we will seek to bring people to justice. That’s the rule of law.’

He urged councils and musuems to act before monuments are targeted by protestors, saying the matter should be resolved without police having to step in.

‘It’s not a matter for the police, unless a criminal offence is committed,’ he said.

‘This is a matter for those people that own or are the guardians of the statues wherever they may be, and dealing with those people who feel very strongly about appropriateness or otherwise of those statues.

‘Where people feel that something is inappropriate that should be taken up through proper processes with the people that are responsible for that statue, and this is dealt with in a way that is done peacefully and done in a way that everyone can be satisfied with. It shouldn’t be dealt with by criminal acts.’

He spoke out as the NPCC’s lead on public order, Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington, admitted forces may not act to prevent statues being toppled if people’s safety was a risk.

‘Officers will be there looking to make sure that people don’t get hurt in the first instance, trying to protect property if that’s the right thing to do, but people come first, making sure officers and those taking part are safe,’ the Essex Police chief said.

‘Commanders weigh up all of the issues they are facing that includes protecting people’s lives and protecting people’s property to take the appropriate response.

‘Sometimes that will see people arrested there and then, sometimes that will be about warnings and sometimes that will be about gathering evidence and having an investigation afterwards to bring those people to justice because that is the safest and the best thing to do.’

He added: ‘We will not tolerate violence in our communities, whether that’s against people, whether it’s against property or, indeed, against police officers, and if this kind of disorder occurs, we will act.’

Police have made 138 arrests during Black Lives Matter demonstrations. So far 62 officers have been injured in the protests.

Colston’s statue was lifted out of Bristol Harbour yesterday morning, four days after protestors dumped it there.

The city council carried out a secret recovery operation to fish it out at 5am tweeting: ‘It is being taken to a secure location before later forming part of our museums collection.’

It took a team of five, including one diver in the water and another waiting on the shore, just under an hour to remove it.

Avon and Somerset Police have launched an investigation but the force has yet to make any arrests, despite the protestors yanking the statue down being clearly identifiable on camera.

Home Secretary Priti Patel is said to have had a ‘firm’ discussion with the force’s Chief Constable, Andy Marsh, about why officers did not intervene when the monument was torn down.

Now the force has urged people to hand themselves in amid concerns that the prosecution could flounder without Bristol City Council making a formal complaint about the loss of the statue.

Yesterday the Conservative candidate to be Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner urged the force to act.

Mark Shelford claimed officers were ‘very upset and frustrated’ by orders not to intervene to prevent the damage to the Colston statue.

The former deputy leader of Bath and North East Somerset Council said: ‘I am sympathetic that these things take time to get all the evidence together before you make the arrests, but if arrests are not made by the end of the week I will be asking questions.’

Source: Read Full Article