Priti Patel has condemned protesters who clashed with police during counter-Black Lives Matter demonstrations in London over the weekend as “racist and far-right hooligans”.
The Home Secretary told MPs in the Commons today: “I was saddened and sickened at the far-right thugs who came to London this weekend.
“They were violent, they were aggressive and abusive towards police officers. They were patently racist.”
The Witham MP said that at least 160 protests took place in the UK over the weekend, with the vast majority doing so peacefully.
However, she added that counter-demonstrations sparked “ugly scenes” as 2,000 people turned out to march against anti-racism campaigners.
Those attending the demonstrations claimed to be guarding the statue of Winston Churchill - after it was vandalised during anti-racism rallies. But violence broke out and police were pelted with missiles, smoke grenades, glass bottles and flares.
Some 38 officers were hurt during protests across the UK over the weekend, bringing the total up to at least 100.
On Saturday, 137 arrests were made, bring the total to at least 280.
“Many of the so-called protesters came with the deliberate intent of causing harm to those around them and to police officers. This hooliganism is utterly indefensible,” Ms Patel said.
Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds echoed Ms Patel’s condemnation of the violence, but warned that it should take focus away from racial issues.
He said: “There should be no attempt to draw comparisons between those intent on violence this weekend and the legitimate cause of the Black Live Matters campaigners.”
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