Violence erupts at anti-racism protest in London

© Getty The violence saw scuffles and some people throwing bottles at police

Violence has erupted in London after a group of Black Lives Matter protesters clashed with the police – with bottles thrown and mounted officers charging down Whitehall.

It came after a largely peaceful day of demonstrations against racism across the UK following the killing of George Floyd in the US.

Sky News correspondent Mark White was at the scene on Whitehall – near Downing Street and The Cenotaph.

He said the atmosphere had started to shift in the area, where around 400 to 500 people had gathered, and then “just after the thunderstorm… the crowd started throwing bottles and other objects at the police”.a group of people in uniform: Police tried to hold back the crowd on Whitehall, close to The Cenotaph and Downing Street© Getty Police tried to hold back the crowd on Whitehall, close to The Cenotaph and Downing Street

Mounted officers charged down the street at around 6pm to push the protesters back.

A police officer fell from her horse after smashing into a traffic light as the unrest unfolded.a group of people standing around a fire: A flare was lit during the protests on Whitehall© PA A flare was lit during the protests on Whitehall

Metropolitan Police said she had been taken to hospital, where her injuries are not said to be life-threatening.

The force tweeted: “The officer fell from her horse, and we are examining the full circumstances of what took place.”

Police said the horse, which was uninjured, made its own way back to its stables nearby.

Protests remained
A horse bolted and threw its rider following a Black Lives Matter protest rally in Parliament Square (Image: Yui Mok/PA Wire)

Protests remained peaceful in the day, before tensions escalated between police and a small number of activists in the evening.

The clashes eventually petered out, but the tension remained as a large number of protesters and officers in riot gear remained at the scene.a group of people standing in front of a crowd: The vast majority of people in London protested peacefully© Getty The vast majority of people in London protested peacefully

Sky’s correspondent said police had been trying to mount “as low-key a policing operation as possible… but obviously they’re not going to stick with that approach if their officers are coming under attack”.© PA The vast majority of people in London protested peacefully

One protester told Sky News he was angry some of those at the rally had turned to violence, saying “the meaning’s become lost”.

The man said: “People are here, throwing bottles, doing all sorts of things, that is eventually going to tarnish why we’re here. It’s going to make us look like the bad people here.”a group of people standing in a room: George Floyd's coffin arrives for a memorial held in his home town© Reuters George Floyd’s coffin arrives for a memorial held in his home town

London Mayor Sadiq Khan praised the peaceful protesters but criticised those who became violent, saying they “let down the cause”.a group of people sitting in chairs in front of a crowd: A memorial took place on Saturday in North Carolina© Other A memorial took place on Saturday in North Carolina

He added: “To the tiny minority who were violent and threw glass bottles and lit flares – you endangered a safe and peaceful protest and let down this important cause.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said violence towards police was “completely unacceptable” and gave officers her full support.

In a tweet, she said: “Protests must be peaceful and in accordance with social-distancing rules. Violence towards a police officer is completely unacceptable at any time.”

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