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London mayor warns of 'violence and disorder' as far-right groups vow to 'defend' monuments

The statue of Winston Churchill stands defaced after a protest [NurPhoto/Getty]

Date of publication: 12 June, 2020

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London's Muslim Mayor Sadiq Khan fears clashes may break out between far-right and anti-racism protestors in London this weekend.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has warned of "violence and disorder" on the streets of central London this weekend as both far-right and anti-racism groups come out to protest, Press Association reported.

Khan urged demonstrators to stay home, saying he is "extremely concerned" by the violence which could result from the protests, especially those by far-right groups which he said "advocate hate and division".

Protests in the UK in solidarity with the US Black Lives Matter movement, triggered by the death of George Floyd in police custody, have led to the statues of figures such as slave trader Edward Colston being torn down and damaged.

The newly-formed Democratic Football Lads Alliance said it will be "protecting" monuments this weekend and urged "no women or children (to) attend" because the group could not guarantee they would be safe.

Far-right figure Tommy Robinson has come out in support of the planned far-right demonstration. 

"It is clear that the majority of the protesters have been peaceful. This moment must be a catalyst for systemic, lasting change to tackle the racism and inequalities that black people still face today, in this country and elsewhere," Khan said in a statement posted on Twitter.

"However, I'm extremely concerned that further protests in central London not only risk spreading Covid-19, but could lead to disorder, vandalism and violence," he added.

"Extreme far-right groups who advocate hatred and division are planning counter-protests, which means that the risk of disorder is high."

Government officials have also urged protestors to stay at home and adhere to social distancing measures amid the current coronavirus pandemic.

"Staying home and ignoring them is the best response this weekend," Khan urged.

Demonstrators in London came out in the thousands over the weekend to protest against police brutality and racism under the banner of the Black Lives Matter movement.

In Bristol, a city linked to the slave trade, the statue of trader Edward Colston was torn down Sunday and thrown into the harbour.

The controversy raging across Britain has stirred resentment - including among far-right groups - raising fears of a further fracturing of society already hit by the divisive Brexit debate and years of widening social inequality.

Read more: The statues are tumbling down, the structures of racism must follow

Khan himself has announced his own review of landmarks to see if they could better reflect the city's diversity.

Statues and street names in London with links to slavery "should be taken down", the city's mayor said, according to the BBC.

The US-initiated Black Lives Matter protests were reignited globally following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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