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Boris Johnson Says Protesters Who Engage in Vandalism Will 'Face Full Force of Law'

© REUTERS / John SibleyPeople holds signs during a protest in Trafalgar Square
People holds signs during a protest in Trafalgar Square - Sputnik International
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A wave of protests against racial inequality and police brutality has swept through the United Kingdom over the death of African American man George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, with instances of police officers attacked and historic monuments vandalised by protesters.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday he will not "indulge those who break the law, or attack the police, or desecrate public monuments", adding that they would "face the full force of the law".

Johnson said that Floyd's death awakened an "undeniable feeling of injustice", acknowledging that people from black and minority ethnic groups "do face discrimination", adding that those feelings are founded on a cold reality.

"We who lead and who govern simply can't ignore those feelings because in too many cases, I am afraid, they will be founded on a cold reality", the prime minister said.

The statue of Edward Colston is thrown into the harbour in Bristol. - Sputnik International
History’s Awkward Reminders: Why UK Slave Trader Won’t be the Last to Have His Statue Torn Down
On the second day of anti-racism protests in the UK, a bronze statue in Bristol honoring slave trader Edward Colston, who left his fortune to charities, was pulled down from its base and dumped into the harbour. Johnson said he sees the removal of the monument as a criminal act, his spokesperson said. 

At the same time, Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees said he understood the sense of loss that some people felt but did not share it, commenting that the fact that the 125-year-old monument is now underwater is a "piece of historical irony".

Johnson also emphasised that he would not support protesters who violate social distancing rules.

"I will not support those who flout the rules on social distancing, for the obvious reason that we risk a new infection at a critical time, just as we have made huge progress. An no, I will not support or indulge those who break the law, or attack the police, or desecrate public monuments," Johnson stated.

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said Monday that more than 137,000 people had taken part in protests against racial inequality and police violence against minorities in the United Kingdom. Patel also added that over 30 police officers had suffered injuries during the protests, which turned violent in London. Cenotaph, London's most symbolic war memorial, and the statue of Winston Churchill were also vandalised by rioters. As a result, police officers made 135 arrests over the weekend.

African American man George Floyd's death at the hands of police in Minneapolis, Minnesota has sparked a worldwide movement against police brutality and social injustice. However, many of the protests turned into riots complete with violence against police and civilians, and acts of vandalism, as well as arson and looting.

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