Demonstrators in the United Kingdom, protesting against the killing of George Floyd, pasted anti-racism messages on Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in London’s Parliament Square and wrote “racist” near the base on Sunday, reported Hindustan Times.

The statue, which was installed in 2015, is among 12 others in the square that contains prominent foreign and political figures, such as Abraham Lincoln. The statue of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was vandalised and the words “was a racist” were sprayed on it.

Earlier on Sunday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the anti-racism demonstrations in the United Kingdom had been “subverted by thuggery”. Some of the protests have turned violent.

On May 26, four police officials detained Floyd after he had allegedly used a counterfeit bill at a store in Minnesota. Outrage grew after a widely shared video showed one of the officers kneeling for almost nine minutes on Floyd’s neck. Floyd was seen gasping for breath, pleading with the officials saying, “I can’t breathe”. He died on the spot. An autopsy commissioned for Floyd’s family found that he died of asphyxiation due to neck and back compression.

“People have a right to protest peacefully and while observing social distancing but they have no right to attack the police,” Johnson tweeted on Sunday. “These demonstrations have been subverted by thuggery – and they are a betrayal of the cause they purport to serve. Those responsible will be held to account.”

Thousands of people attended peaceful protests in several cities in the United Kingdom over the weekend, BBC reported. However, on Sunday, unrest in London led to injuries to eight police officers, and the arrests of 12 people.

In Bristol, the police said they had started an investigation into “criminal damage” of a statue of Edward Colston – a 17th-century slave trader. Protestors destroyed the statue over the weekend, an incident the government condemned.

“There was a small group of people who clearly committed an act of criminal damage in pulling down a statue near Bristol Harbourside,” Avon and Somerset Police Superintendent Andy Bennett said according to PTI. “An investigation will be carried out to identify those involved and we’re collating footage of the incident,” said Superintendent Andy Bennett of the local Avon and Somerset Police.”

Demonstrators also vandalised the statue of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill on Parliament Street in London, spraying it with graffiti. They pasted a “Black Lives Matter” sign on it.

Crime and Policing Minister Kit Malthouse told BBC that the protests, including those that were peaceful, were in violation of the lockdown orders in force in the United Kingdom to combat the spread of the coronavirus. However, he added that the protests were not stopped due to the “strength of feeling” over Floyd’s death.

In the United States, third-degree murder charges were filed against Derek Chauvin, a white man and the former Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on Floyd’s neck. On June 4, the charges were updated to second-degree murder.

Also read:

  1. Video attacking Gandhi for his racist statements takes a simplistic view of a complex life
  2. Who’s afraid of Gandhi? Why there have been attempts to remove the Mahatma’s statues in Africa
  3. Gandhi’s racism: It’s time for the Mahatma to become a properly historical figure with all his flaws