British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned Friday that the UK anti-racism protests had been “hijacked by extremists” who were attacking national monuments in an effort to “censor our past”.
“It is clear that the protests have been sadly hijacked by extremists intent on violence,” Johnson said in a statement issued on Twitter.
Police have boarded up prominent statues around London ahead of a new wave of demonstrations and rallies this weekend.
A famous statue of Winston Churchill outside parliament was defaced last weekend during “Black Lives Matter” rallies sparked by George Floyd’s death during a police arrest in Minnesota on May 25.
Johnson called the targeting of Churchill “absurd and shameful”.
“The statue of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square is a permanent reminder of his achievement in saving this country — and the whole of Europe — from a fascist and racist tyranny,” said Johnson, who lists the war-time leader as one of his personal heroes.
“Yes, he sometimes expressed opinions that were and are unacceptable to us today, but he was a hero, and he fully deserves his memorial,” Johnson wrote.
Protesters blame Churchill for policies that led to the death of millions during a famine in the Indian state of Bengal in 1943.
“We cannot now try to edit or censor our past. We cannot pretend to have a different history,” said Johnson.
“The statues in our cities and towns were put up by previous generations.”