London police head vows 'justice' for officers attacked at BLM protest

Cressida Dick said that the Metropolitan Police did not unfairly target black people

A flare lands during scuffles between police and demonstrators at a Black Lives Matter march in London, Saturday, June 6, 2020, as people protest against the killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, USA. Floyd, a black man, died after he was restrained by Minneapolis police while in custody on May 25 in Minnesota. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
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Britain’s most senior police officer strongly condemned the “shocking” violence against some of her colleagues during the London Black Lives Matter protests this week, as demonstrators descended on the capital’s US embassy on Sunday.

Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, said 14 officers were injured during clashes with a small number of protesters in central London on Saturday following a peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstration. Another 13  officers were hurt in protests in the British capital earlier in the week.

"I am deeply saddened and depressed that a minority of protesters became violent towards officers in central London yesterday evening," Ms Dick said.

"We have made a number of arrests and justice will follow. The number of assaults is shocking and completely unacceptable.

"I know many who were seeking to make their voices heard will be as appalled as I am by those scenes. There is no place for violence in our city.

"Officers displayed extreme patience and professionalism throughout a long and difficult day, and I thank them for that."

Marches have been taking place all over the world in protest of police racism and brutality following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in Minneapolis on May 25. A white police officer detaining him knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes as fellow officers stood by.

Demonstrations were largely peaceful at several Black Lives Matter protests in London, but there were a small number of incidents with some people throwing bottles and firing flares.

One mounted police officer fell off her horse during the protests, sending it galloping alone between crowds down Whitehall. Police said the officer required hospital treatment after the fall.

Statues in Parliament Square of former British leaders, including David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill, were defaced with "BLM" graffiti by activists on Saturday.

Ms Dick’s comments come as the Metropolitan Police face fresh accusations that they unfairly target black people.

New figures by The Guardian show that officers enforcing the coronavirus lockdown were more than twice as likely to issue fines to black people as white people.

Ms Dick has denied this and said that the Met did not discriminate against black people.

“We know that in London our black communities have suffered all sorts of disadvantages in terms of health, in terms of education, in terms of employment outcomes,” she told ITV.

“And our black communities are very heavily subject to being victims of violent crime. We police in the areas where we can do the best effect at reducing violence."

Thousands of activists attended demonstrations outside the US embassy in Battersea, south London and outside Downing Street on Sunday afternoon. Demonstrations were also held in Bristol, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

In Bristol, demonstrators pulled down a statue of 17th century slave trader Edward Colston and threw it into the city's river.

Over the weekend, activists and family members of British people of ethnic minorities that have in police custody attended the demonstrations.

Kadihah George, who was at the march in Westminster on Saturday, demanded justice for her cousin Sheku Bayoh, who died in police custody in Fife, Scotland in 2015.

Sheku Bayoh never regained consciousness after he was hit with batons and restrained by police in Kirkcaldy in May 2015. Like George Floyd, he also died of asphyxia.

Although the officers who restrained Bayoh have denied wrongdoing, the family believe he wouldn’t have been as brutally treated if he wasn’t black.

A public inquiry has been granted into Bayoh’s death by First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon.

“After the police were called saying they saw a black man acting erratically, when they got to the scene, it ended up being four police officers sitting on him. Two of them were double his weight,” said Ms George.

“They know that CS gas can kill if your head held down, they know that, but they still did it," she added.

“He died of asphyxiation. He didn’t get up until they shoved him in the back of the ambulance with handcuffs and foot cuffs on and he was already dead. They tried to pretend to the family that they didn’t know what was going on. We are still waiting for justice."