LONDON. — Fourteen police officers were injured in “shocking and completely unacceptable” assaults during anti-racism protests in central London on Saturday, London police chief Cressida Dick said on Sunday.
After a largely peaceful day, small numbers of protesters briefly clashed with mounted police on Saturday after thousands gathered to voice their anger at police brutality after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“I am deeply saddened and depressed that a minority of protesters became violent towards officers in central London yesterday evening. This led to 14 officers being injured,” Dick, who is Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, said in a statement.
“The number of assaults is shocking and completely unacceptable.”
The police said that 13 officers were also hurt in protests earlier in the week and a number of arrests had been made.
One officer received hospital treatment on Saturday after falling from her horse, but the police said her injuries are not life-threatening.
Further protests are planned on Sunday. Dick urged protesters to find another way to make their views heard which “does not involve coming out on the streets of London” due to the risk of the spread of the coronavirus.
London’s police said late on Saturday they had arrested 14 people and expected that number to rise.
Earlier in the day, more than a thousand protesters marched past the US Embassy on the south bank of the River Thames.
Thousands of protesters also crowded into the square outside Parliament, holding “Black Lives Matter” placards 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, IT specialist Kena David, 32, said Britain was guilty of racist abuses too.
“Everything you see around you is built off the backs of black and brown bodies.”
Saturday’s protests reflect global anger over police treatment of ethnic minorities, sparked by the May 25 killing of Floyd, a black American, when a white police officer detaining him knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes as fellow officers stood by.
Demonstrations also took place in other British, European and Asian cities on Saturday, after tens of thousands of people chanting “No justice, no peace, no racist police” marched through central London on Wednesday.
Reclusive street artist Banksy published a new artwork online showing the U.S. flag being set alight by a candle that formed part of a memorial to an anonymous, black silhouetted figure.
Before Saturday’s protest in London, the US ambassador to Britain condemned Floyd’s death and said the United States needed to do more to fight racism and injustice.
“It is through peaceful protests that injustice is most successfully addressed,” said Ambassador Woody Johnson.