UK anti-racism protesters clash with mounted police

Violence mars largely peaceful day of demonstrations for George Floyd in London

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British anti-racism protesters briefly clashed with mounted police on Saturday as 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 at protesters to push them back.

As violence flared in the heart of the British capital, one mounted police officer fell off her horse, sending it galloping out of control down Whitehall. Police said she needed hospital treatment after the fall and that nine other officers were injured.

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

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

Thousands of protesters had also crowded into the square outside parliament, holding placards saying "Black Lives Matter" 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, 32-year-old IT specialist Kena David, said Britain was guilty of racist abuses too. "Everything you see around you is built off the backs of black and brown bodies."

A mounted police officer lays on the road after being unseated from their horse on Whitehall, near the entrance to Downing Street in central London on June 6, 2020, during a demonstration organised to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a police officer knelt on his neck in Minneapolis. The United States braced Friday for massive weekend protests against racism and police brutality, as outrage soared over the latest law enforcement abuses against demonstrators that were caught on camera. With protests over last week's police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, surging into a second weekend, President Donald Trump sparked fresh controversy by saying it was a "great day" for Floyd. / AFP / DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS

Demonstrations also took place in other British cities, and reclusive street artist Banksy published a new artwork online which showed the US flag being set alight by a candle that formed part of a memorial to an anonymous, black, silhouetted figure.

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

Tens of thousands of people chanting "no justice, no peace, no racist police" marched through central London on Wednesday. Demonstrators took to the streets in many European and Asian cities on Saturday.

Before Saturday's protest in London, the US ambassador to Britain, Woody Johnson, issued a statement condemning Floyd's death and said America needed to do more to fight racism and injustice.

"It is through peaceful protests that injustice is most successfully addressed," he said.