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FAR-RIGHT protesters who descended on the capital at the weekend to “protect statues” were seen giving nazi salutes, attacking journalists and urinating on a memorial.
Anti-racist groups condemned Saturday’s violence as “actual extremism and thuggery,” countering Tory ministers’ slurs directed at Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters last week.
Footage of the protests, attended by 5,000 football hooligans and far-right groups, showed topless white men drinking beer and chanting “England, England” while others attempted to punch police, throw bottles and let off fireworks.
More than 100 people were arrested, the Metropolitan Police said.
They included a 28-year-old man who was held on suspicion of urinating on a memorial dedicated to PC Keith Palmer, who was killed in the Westminster terror attack of 2017.
The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) said that there had been multiple attacks on reporters, with one photographer suffering a broken nose.
NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “It is clear that many protesters on London’s streets today were thugs spoiling for a fight, who decided to focus their anger at journalists out doing their job.”
Journalists described the atmosphere as “menacing” and “threatening” and some media outlets advised staff not to engage with or seek interviews with protesters, the union said.
Later on Saturday, scuffles also broke out in Trafalgar Square between far-right groups and police officers.
Stand Up To Racism campaigner Patrick Nielson said that he had seen a young black man “brutally attacked” by a 20-strong group who kicked and punched him while he was on the floor.
“He wasn't even part of the BLM protest,” Mr Nielson said. “This young black man couldn't have been older than 14 or 15. If we give racists an inch, they take a mile.”
The anti-racist group accused Mr Johnson of “giving oxygen and encouragement” to far-right forces by claiming last week that the Black Lives Matter movement has been “hijacked by extremists.”
Hope not Hate chief executive Nick Lowles said: “It was violence of a different order to anything seen last week — deliberate, sought after and planned. This was what actual extremism and thuggery looks like.”
Due to the threat posed by football hooligan and far-right groups, Black Lives Matter organisers decided to cancel their protests in the capital.
However, protests went ahead elsewhere, including in Bristol and Newcastle.
Today, 7,000 Black Lives Matter protesters demonstrated in Leeds, filling the city’s Millennium Square and streets around the city centre.
An estimated 100 to 200 fascist counterprotesters gathered at Leeds war memorial but were kept apart from the BLM demonstration by police.
A news photographer said that he had been threatened and abused by fascists who threw beer at him and shouted: “Anti-fa scum.”
In contrast, BLM protesters chanted: “Give peace a chance,” as they flocked into the square.
Hundreds of loyalists also gathered in Glasgow’s George Square today, with some chasing bystanders and fighting with police.
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