More than 100 officers injured amid anti-racism demonstrations, police chiefs claim
More than 130 officers have been injured during anti-racism demonstrations, the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s (NPCC) chairman has claimed.
The figures come as a police chief warned forces will “not tolerate violence in our communities” and pursue people who damage monuments and statues.
Although protesters, brought out by the death of George Floyd in the US, have largely been peaceful, some people clashed with police during last weekend’s demonstrations in London.
A statue of 17th-century slave trader Thomas Colston was also pulled down by a crowd in Bristol.
NPCC chairman Martin Hewitt said more than 130 officers had been “injured in one way or another” but did not give further details.
The scale of support Black Lives Matter protests has also become clearer, with Essex Police chief constable Ben-Julian Harrington saying more than 155,000 people had taken part in 200 demonstrations.
They were started in response to the death of Floyd, who died after a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck to pin him to the ground as he pleaded for air.
It has also been revealed that 137 people have been arrested, while some were fined for breaches of the coronavirus regulations which ban gatherings of more than six people.
Harrington said: “We will not tolerate violence in our communities, whether that’s against people, whether it’s against property or, indeed, against police officers, and if this kind of disorder occurs, we will act.
“It’s unacceptable that so many officers were injured in London over the weekend.
“And I think any criminality will be thoroughly investigated and action will be taken against those who commit offences.”
Discussing damages to monuments and statues, he said police “will seek to bring people to justice”.
However, he added: “It’s not a matter for the police, unless a criminal offence is committed, this is a matter for those people that own or are the guardians of the statues wherever they may be, and dealing with those people who feel very strongly about appropriateness or otherwise of those statues.”
Avon and Somerset Police received criticism for not intervening when protesters tore down the statue of Colston, who made much of his fortune off the slave trade.
The statue has now been recovered and will be placed in a museum.
The Avon and Somerset chief said he had put people’s safety first and backed his officers’ decision not to intervene.
Harrington said: “What we will do is have appropriate plans and of course the officers will be there looking to make sure that people don’t get hurt in the first instance, trying to protect property if that’s the right thing to do, but people come first, making sure officers and those taking part are safe.”