04:33 GMT13 May 2021
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    As hundreds of Black Lives Matter and pro-statue protesters rallied in cities across the UK on Saturday, a statue of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square, earlier desecrated and spray-painted with the words ‘was a racist’, was boarded up by London Mayor Sadiq Khan over concerns it might become a “flashpoint for violence”.

    Winston Churchill's granddaughter has wondered about the plight of Egypt’s pyramids, and warned they might be in danger if “purist” protesters turn their attention to them, reported The Sunday Telegraph.

    Emma Soames, granddaughter of the UK Prime Minister from 1940 to 1945, who led the country during the Second World War, also suggested the bronze monument to Churchill in London’s Parliament Square might “be safer in a museum”, as she was interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

    The statue of former British prime minister Winston Churchill is cleaned in Parliament Square, central London on June 8, 2020, after being defaced, with the words (Churchill) was a racist written on it's base by protesters at a demonstration on June 7, 2020, organised to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
    © AFP 2021 / justin Tallis
    The statue of former British prime minister Winston Churchill is cleaned in Parliament Square, central London on June 8, 2020, after being defaced, with the words (Churchill) "was a racist" written on it's base by protesters at a demonstration on June 7, 2020, organised to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

    Soames acknowledged that although some of her grandfather’s views might be frowned upon today, millions of British people perceived him as a national hero.

    “He was a powerful, complex man with infinitely more good than bad in the ledger of his life… Until now, he was regarded as the saviour of this country and one of [its] greatest democrats and parliamentarians. That is why the statue is there,” said Soames.

    The descendant of the former UK Prime Minister added she had been “shocked” to see the statue covered up with protective scaffolding, although she understood why it had been necessary ahead of anti-racism protests during the weekend.

    “I mean, if you’re going to be utterly purist and blinkered about Black Lives Matter, where does that leave the pyramids in Egypt, for instance?” queried Soames.

    Archaeologists tend to stick to the theory that that the pyramids in Giza were built by paid labourers, yet some believe they were constructed using slave labour.

    ‘Offensive’ Statue

    Earlier, speaking on BBC Radio 4, Imarn Ayton, an acknowledged figurehead of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, which has been spearheading the anti-racism protests triggered by the death of black man George Floyd in police detention in the US, said a monument to anyone who has “spoken negatively towards black people” is going to be offensive and belongs in a museum.

    Ayton urged BLM campaigners to stay off the streets of London to avoid clashes with those heading to the capital and other cities across the UK to defend the targeted sculptures.

    Asked whether she believed the Winston Churchill statue should be removed, Ayton said:

    “Yes I do. I believe these statues should be moved to a museum I think it's a win win for everyone… It no longer offends the black nation, but we get to keep our history and keep those that would like to see that.”

    Simmering Tensions

    The developments come against the background of flaring tensions in the UK, with a spate of protests taking place in multiple big cities on Saturday.

    Prior to the second onslaught of demonstrations, which are perceived in the UK as a display of solidarity with anti-police brutality and anti-racism protests in America, a statue of Winston Churchill, the Cenotaph in Parliament Square and a monument to Nelson Mandela were shrouded in protective scaffolding on orders from Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

    Churchill's statue in London
    Churchill's statue in London

    The measures were taken after the statue to Winston Churchill was vandalised during anti-racism protests the previous weekend, with the words ‘was a racist’ spray-painted on it.

    UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson had deplored the “absurd and shameful” attacks on the statue of Churchill and said the UK “cannot lie about its history”.

    ​In anticipation of further protests and possible violence, London police chiefs imposed a 5pm curfew on all demonstrations.
    However, some 1,000 protesters ignored the curfew.

    Demonstrators confront with police officers during a Black Lives Matter protest following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, at the Waterloo Station in London, Britain, June 13, 2020. REUTERS/Simon Dawson
    © REUTERS / SIMON DAWSON
    Demonstrators confront with police officers during a Black Lives Matter protest following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, at the Waterloo Station in London, Britain, June 13, 2020. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

    Over 100 people were subsequently arrested, according to the Met Police, as cited by the BBC, as events turned violent in Trafalgar Square and at Waterloo station, where police were pelted and punched.

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    Black Lives Matter Protests Sweep Across Globe Following Death of George Floyd (136)

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    Black Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter, George Floyd, George Floyd killing, Winston Churchill
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