Police head off clash between groups in Glasgow amid statue protest

Police in Glasgow were able to avert a clash between protesters looking to keep the statue of Metropolitan Police founder Robert Peel and an unknown group.

Hundreds of people descended on George Square to call for the statue to stay in place.

The original protest, organised by the Glasgow Youth Art Collective, was postponed due to what organisers say was a lack of access to the square and “police targeting activists”.

A small group of people, whose affiliation is not known, could be seen coming down North Hanover Street prompting hundreds of counter-protesters to begin running towards the group before police were able to get in between the two.

Missiles could be seen flying between the two groups as police – with their batons drawn – formed a line across the street.

The unknown group were forced back up North Hanover Street, away from the square.

Police Scotland confirmed the group is not believed to be affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement, which has been protesting across the country in recent weeks after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

A police helicopter was deployed and could be seen flying over the city centre.

Press and photographers covering the protest were repeatedly told by protesters to stop taking pictures and video.

Chief Superintendent Alan Murray said: “Police Scotland can confirm that officers were aware of a disturbance near George Square, Glasgow today.

“At this time the incident does not appear to be connected to a Black Lives Matter protest.”

The Glasgow Youth Art Collective said on its Facebook page: “We attempted to have a peaceful protest today in city in the style of a public consultation for the people of Glasgow to decide what would be best to happen to the racist and anti-working class statues of George Square.

“Due to the police targeting activists before we were able to gather and no easy access to the square, we have decided to postpone today’s demo.”

Responding to the statement from the organiser, Mr Murray said: “Police will always facilitate peaceful protest where practical and safe to do so, but overall public safety of all those concerned is a key consideration.”

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