Violence erupts at anti-racism protest in London

Violence has erupted in London after a group of Black Lives Matter protesters clashed with the police – with bottles thrown and mounted officers charging down Whitehall.

It came after a largely peaceful day of demonstrations against racism across the UK following the killing of George Floyd in the US.

Sky News correspondent Mark White was at the scene on Whitehall – near Downing Street and The Cenotaph.

The violence saw scuffles and some people throwing bottles at police

He said the atmosphere had started to shift in the area, where around 400 to 500 people had gathered, and then “just after the thunderstorm… the crowd started throwing bottles and other objects at the police”.

:: LIVE – Chaos as police move in on Black Lives Matter protesters in London

Mounted officers charged down the street at around 6pm to push the protesters back.

Police tried to hold back the crowd on Whitehall, close to The Cenotaph and Downing Street

Police horse bolts as London protests turn violent

The Metropolitan Police confirmed a female officer fell from a horse and was taken to hospital, where her injuries are not said to be life-threatening.

The force tweeted: “The officer fell from her horse, and we are examining the full circumstances of what took place.”

Video footage online appeared to show the officer colliding with a traffic light before the animal ran through a crowd of protesters. The force said the horse, which was uninjured, made its own way back to its stables nearby.

Some demonstrators had knelt down with their hands up as police attempted to push the crowd down Whitehall.

The situation has now largely calmed down, but a large number of protesters and officers in riot gear are still at the scene.

A flare was lit during the protests on Whitehall

Sky’s correspondent said police had been trying to mount “as low-key a policing operation as possible… but obviously they’re not going to stick with that approach if their officers are coming under attack”.

One protester told Sky News he was angry some of those at the rally had turned to violence, saying “the meaning’s become lost”.

The vast majority of people in London protested peacefully

The man said: “People are here, throwing bottles, doing all sorts of things, that is eventually going to tarnish why we’re here. It’s going to make us look like the bad people here.”

London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has praised the peaceful protesters but criticised those who became violent, saying they “let down the cause”.

He added: “To the tiny minority who were violent and threw glass bottles and lit flares – you endangered a safe and peaceful protest and let down this important cause.

The Home Secretary Priti Patel said violence towards police at protests was “completely unacceptable” and gave officers her full support in tackling any violence, vandalism or disorderly behaviour”, saying there was “no justification for it”.

In a Tweet, she said: “Protests must be peaceful and in accordance with social-distancing rules. Violence towards a police officer is completely unacceptable at any time.”

Saturday’s demonstrations against racism were largely peaceful and saw thousands take to the streets of cities including London, Manchester, Cardiff, Luton, Leicester and Bath.

In the US meanwhile, a memorial service took place in Raeford, North Carolina, a small town near Mr Floyd’s birthplace of Fayetteville.

A long line of people formed outside a Free Will Baptist church, waiting to enter in small groups for a chance to look at his coffin, including families with young children and teenagers..

George Floyd’s coffin arrives for a memorial held in his home town

A memorial took place on Saturday in North Carolina

At a private memorial service later in the day, mourners sang along with a choir. On display at the front of the chapel was a large photo of the 46-year-old and a portrait of him adorned with an angel’s wings and halo.

When a hearse bearing his coffin arrived, chants of Black Power, George Floyd and No justice, no peace, echoed from beneath the covered entrance.

“It could have been me. It could have been my brother, my father, any of my friends who are black,” said a man in the crowd.

“It was a heavy hit, especially knowing that George Floyd was born near my hometown. It made me feel very vulnerable at first.”

Thousands of protesters have streamed into the US capital for what was expected to be Washington DC’s largest demonstration yet against police brutality.

Military vehicles and officers in combat clothing closed off much of downtown Washington to traffic ahead of the planned march, which authorities estimated would attract up to 200,000 people outraged by Mr Floyd’s death 12 days ago at the hands of police in Minneapolis.