Man urinates next to Pc Keith Palmer memorial as protest violence escalates

A man urinated next to a memorial dedicated to the police officer killed in the Westminster terror attack amid violent clashes between far-right protesters and police in central London.

Several hundred demonstrators, mostly white men, attended the protest organised by far-right groups, including Britain First, which claimed they wanted to protect statues such as Winston Churchill from vandalism.

But fights erupted in areas near the Houses of Parliament and Trafalgar Square, as demonstrators repeatedly assailed officers with foul-mouthed chants and missiles, smoke grenades and flares.

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Police clash with far-right demonstrators in London
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Police clash with far-right demonstrators in London
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 13: An activist argues with a police officer on Parliament Street on June 13, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. Following a social media post by the far-right activist known as Tommy Robinson, members of far-right linked groups have gathered around statues in London. Several statues in the UK have been targeted by Black Lives Matter protesters for their links to racism and the slave trade (Photo by Kate Green/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Protesters from the Democratic Football Lads Alliance clash with people taking part in a Black Lives Matter protest in Parliament Square, London.
Protesters from the Democratic Football Lads Alliance clash with people taking part in a Black Lives Matter protest in Parliament Square, London.
Police are confronted by protesters in Whitehall near Parliament Square, London, during a protest by the Democratic Football Lads Alliance against a Black Lives Matter protest.
Police are confronted by protesters in Whitehall near Parliament Square, London, during a protest by the Democratic Football Lads Alliance against a Black Lives Matter protest.
Police escort a photographer with blood on their face outside the Houses of Parliament in London, during a protest by the Democratic Football Lads Alliance against a Black Lives Matter protest.
Police escort a photographer with blood on their face outside the Houses of Parliament in London, during a protest by the Democratic Football Lads Alliance against a Black Lives Matter protest.
Members of far-right Football Lads Alliance hold a banner during a counter protest in Parliament Square, central London, Saturday, June 13, 2020. British police have imposed strict restrictions on groups planning to protest in London Saturday in a bid to avoid violent clashes between protesters from the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as far-right groups.(AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Members of far-right Football Lads Alliance hold a British flag in front of a protective covering surrounding the statue of former British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill in Parliament Square, central London, Saturday, June 13, 2020. British police have imposed strict restrictions on groups planning to protest in London Saturday in a bid to avoid violent clashes between protesters from the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as far-right groups.(AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
A member of a far-right group that climbed on a pole chants slogans along Whitehall, in central London, Saturday, June 13, 2020. British police have imposed strict restrictions on groups planning to protest in London Saturday in a bid to avoid violent clashes between protesters from the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as far-right groups.(AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 13: Activists from far-right linked groups chant as they face police officers in Trafalgar Square on June 13, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. Following a social media post by the far-right activist known as Tommy Robinson, members of far-right linked groups have gathered around statues in London. Several statues in the UK have been targeted by Black Lives Matter protesters for their links to racism and the slave trade. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 13: Activists from far-right linked groups face police officers in Trafalgar Square on June 13, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. Following a social media post by the far-right activist known as Tommy Robinson, members of far-right linked groups have gathered around statues in London. Several statues in the UK have been targeted by Black Lives Matter protesters for their links to racism and the slave trade. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
A masked far-right protester walks as British police officers in riot gear escort him and others away in central London, as groups gather to counter-protest against a Black Lives Matter demonstration, Saturday, June 13, 2020. British police have imposed strict restrictions on groups planning to protest in London Saturday in a bid to avoid violent clashes between protesters from the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as far-right groups.(AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
A far-right protester gestures towards British police officers in riot gear at Trafalgar Square in central London, as groups gather to counter-protest against a Black Lives Matter demonstration, Saturday, June 13, 2020. British police have imposed strict restrictions on groups planning to protest in London Saturday in a bid to avoid violent clashes between protesters from the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as far-right groups.(AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Far-right protesters gesture as they confront British police officers at Trafalgar Square in central London, during a counter-protest against a Black Lives Matter demonstration, Saturday, June 13, 2020. British police have imposed strict restrictions on groups planning to protest in London Saturday in a bid to avoid violent clashes between protesters from the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as far-right groups.(AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
A protester is detained by police near Westminster Abbey in London.
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Shards of glass were strewn along the streets close to the Cenotaph on Whitehall after bottles were thrown at police officers clad in riot gear.

MP Tobias Ellwood, who gave first aid to Pc Keith Palmer as he lay dying after being stabbed to death in the grounds Parliament by Khalid Masood in 2017, said the image of the man urinating next to the memorial was "abhorrent".

The Tory MP for Bournemouth East and chairman of the Defence Select Committee, tweeted a picture of the man and wrote: "Absolute shame on this man.

"Of all the images to emerge over these few testing days I find this one of most abhorrent. Please help identify him."

The violent scenes are in contrast with peaceful demonstrations that took place at Hyde Park and Marble Arch by anti-racism protesters in support of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.

Black Lives Matter protests
People taking part in a Black Lives Matter protest in Hyde Park (Victoria Jones/PA)

On Friday, statues in Parliament Square – including of Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi – were boarded up to prevent them being targeted by protesters both from the Black Lives Matter movement and far-right groups.

The Metropolitan Police warned people joining demonstrations on Saturday that they must be off the streets by 5pm or risk being arrested.

At around 4pm, the crowd in Parliament Square thinned out after one of the exits was opened, although a few hundred people remained in the area ahead of the 5pm deadline.

The violence has been condemned by the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Home Secretary Priti Patel, with the latter branding it as "thoroughly unacceptable thuggery".

Speaking before the clashes, Paul Golding, leader of Britain First, said the crowds had turned out to "guard our monuments".

Mr Golding, who was convicted of a terror offence last month, told the PA news agency: "I am extremely fed up with the way that the authorities have allowed two consecutive weekends of vandalism against our national monuments."

There were similar gatherings on Saturday in Belfast, Glasgow and Bristol with crowds massing around monuments.

Throughly unacceptable thuggery.

Any perpetrators of violence or vandalism should expect to face the full force of the law. Violence towards our police officers will not be tolerated.

Coronavirus remains a threat to us all. Go home to stop the spread of this virus & save lives. https://t.co/HsOx9cgrqD

— Priti Patel (@pritipatel) June 13, 2020

In Brighton, more than 1,000 protesters formed a line along the seafront in a Black Lives Matter demonstration.

Protests against police brutality and racism have erupted all over the UK and across the globe following the death of African-American George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police nearly three weeks ago.

Last week, the statue of slave trader Edward Colston was pulled down and dumped into Bristol harbour by anti-racism protesters, while the UK's war-time Prime Minister memorial in London was defaced with the words "was a racist".

The UK Protests in support of Black Lives Matter have largely been peaceful, although some have been marred by acts of violence towards police by a comparatively small group of people.

But these attacks on officers and criminal damage on statues have lasted no more than a couple of hours, mostly towards the end of rallies.

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