UK anti-racism protesters clash with mounted police

Police scuffle with demonstrators at a Black Lives Matter march in London on Saturday. (AP pic)

LONDON: British anti-racism protesters briefly clashed with mounted police on Saturday after thousands gathered in central London to voice their anger at police brutality after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

After a largely peaceful day, small numbers of protesters near Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Downing Street residence threw bottles at police, and mounted officers charged to push them back.

One officer required hospital treatment after falling from her horse, and nine others were injured, police said.

A group of protesters attacked a dummy resembling US President Donald Trump, while others threw flares.

London’s police said late on Saturday they had arrested 14 people and expected that number to rise.

Earlier in the day, more than a thousand protesters marched past the US Embassy on the south bank of the River Thames.

Thousands of protesters also crowded into the square outside Parliament, holding “Black Lives Matter” placards and ignoring government advice to avoid large gatherings due to the risk from coronavirus.

“I have come down in support of black people who have been ill-treated for many, many, many, many years. It is time for a change,” said one protester, 39-year-old primary school teacher Aisha Pemberton.

Another protester, IT specialist Kena David, 32, said Britain was guilty of racist abuses too. “Everything you see around you is built off the backs of black and brown bodies.”

Saturday’s protests reflect global anger over police treatment of ethnic minorities, sparked by the May 25 killing of Floyd, a black American, when a white police officer detaining him knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes as fellow officers stood by.

Demonstrations also took place in other British, European and Asian cities on Saturday, after tens of thousands of people chanting “No justice, no peace, no racist police” marched through central London on Wednesday.

Reclusive street artist Banksy published a new artwork online showing the US flag being set alight by a candle that formed part of a memorial to an anonymous, black silhouetted figure.

Before Saturday’s protest in London, the US ambassador to Britain condemned Floyd’s death and said the United States needed to do more to fight racism and injustice.

“It is through peaceful protests that injustice is most successfully addressed,” said Ambassador Woody Johnson.