Police hoping to avoid violence as Black Lives Matter protests continue for fourth consecutive weekend

Police are hoping to avoid violence as large crowds of Black Lives Matter protesters descend on London for the fourth consecutive weekend following the killing of George Floyd in America.

After the assault of more than 100 officers at previous protests which have seen hundreds of people arrested, Scotland Yard issued a statement urging those attending to avoid violence.

The Metropolitan Police have arrested almost 230 protesters and released 35 images of people wanted over violent clashes during the recent anti-racism protests.

“We would encourage those planning to attend, to use your influence and spread the message that criminal activity and violence will undermine the messages you are wanting people to hear and must be avoided," said Met Police Commander Alex Murray.

Police encouraged people to stay away from the protests, in line with coronavirus regulations, but said there will be "proportionate policing operation in place" to marshal crowds.

A huge debate over racism has been ignited around the world following the killing of African American George Floyd last month, with many in the UK now calling for controversial statues to be removed.

Police want to avoid the violence seen at previous protests. Credit: PA

Britain, with its imperialist past and strong links to the slave trade, is littered with statues commemorating people who made huge profits by selling slaves.

But Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said the UK should be proud of its “incredibly rich” history, which has changed things for the better across the globe.

He told the daily Downing Street briefing on Friday it was important that children were taught both the good and the bad aspects of British history.

Mr Williamson added: “It is absolutely vitally important, incredibly important, that when children are learning about our nation’s history they learn all aspects of it, both the good and the bad.

“But we mustn’t forget that in this nation we have an incredibly rich history and we should be incredibly proud of our history because time and time and time again this country has made a difference and changed things for the better right around the world.”

Following debate over the England rugby song Swing Low, Sweet Chariot - which was originally written by freed slave Wallace Willis in the 1800s - Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it should not be prohibited.

The prime minister said: "Before we start complaining about Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, I want to know what the rest of the words are."

"I certainly don’t think there should be any prohibition on singing that song," he said, adding: "My curiosity is why people don’t seem to know the rest of it - how does it go on?"

Mr Johnson, himself a rugby fan, said he understands issues people are raising over statues and songs, but said "people need to do is focus less on the symbols of discrimination".

"We will be doing things to make sure that people don’t face unfairness in health, in education, in the criminal justice system," he added.

Hundreds of protesters staged a four-hour Black Lives Matter rally and march through Birmingham city centre on Friday, pausing for silences on some of the city’s main thoroughfares.

There was chaos in London when right wing activists clashed with police and Black Lives Matter protesters. Credit: PA

Three police officers were pictured taking a knee with a demonstrator during the Peaceful Protest for Black Lives event, which began in Birmingham’s Victoria Square.

A silence in tribute to George Floyd was held in the square during Friday’s event, while another silence was observed as around 500 marchers paused on tramlines in Corporation Street.

Far-right demonstrators clashed with police and Black Lives Matter protesters on Saturday as they took over areas near the Palace of Westminster and Trafalgar Square.

Mr Murray said: “I really hope we’re not going to see what we saw last weekend or the weekend before.

“We don’t have any information there’s anyone from the right wing attending but we have got information that large crowds of people will be attending.”

Police are urging people not to protest during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, while lockdown regulations still prohibit gatherings of more than six people in England.