Violent protesters could fast-tracked to jail within 24 hours

Violent protesters could be jailed within 24 hours under new fast-track court plans in response to Black Lives Matter (BLM) and far-right demonstrations expected this weekend.

Jun 12, 2020
By Website Editor
Police form up around the Sir Winston Churchill statue in Parliament Square, London, ahead of a BLM rally on Tuesday evening.

Anybody caught vandalising, causing criminal damage or assaulting police officers could be processed through magistrates’ courts with extended opening hours quickly, according to reports in The Times.

The paper suggests that Justice Secretary Robert Buckland and Home Secretary Priti Patel have drawn up the plans based on the response to the 2011 London riots.

Scaffolding and boards were erected around the Cenotaph and Winston Churchill statue in Westminster on Thursday evening, following the monuments being vandalised during previous protests.

It came as Mayor of London Sadiq Khan pleaded with the public to stay at home amid concerns that further protests in London, particularly by extreme far-right groups which “advocate hatred and division”, could lead to violence and disorder.

After consecutive weekends of BLM demonstrations, far-right group the Democratic Football Lads Alliance has called on supporters to travel to London to protect monuments.

Far-right figure Tommy Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, has also expressed his support.

Mr Khan said: “I’m extremely concerned that further protests in central London not only risk spreading Covid-19, but could lead to disorder, vandalism and violence.

“Extreme far-right groups who advocate hatred and division are planning counter-protests, which means that the risk of disorder is high.

“Be in no doubt these counter-protests are there to provoke violence, and their only goal is to distract and hijack this important issue.

“Staying home and ignoring them is the best response this weekend.”

The warning comes as the impact of the BLM movement continues to be felt across the country with the removal of a number of monuments and statues.

On Thursday evening (June 11) , a Bristol tower block sign bearing the name of a slave trader was removed. A video circulating online showed men in hard hats scaling Colston Tower in Bristol city centre and removing the controversial figure’s name from the top of the high-rise building.

Hours earlier, Colston’s statue was fished out of Bristol harbour after being pulled down and dumped into the water during an anti-racism demonstration on Sunday.

And Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals in London have said they will remove two statues of their namesakes from public view due to their links to the slave trade.

Meanwhile, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council has delayed plans to temporarily remove a statue of Scouts founder Robert Baden-Powell after angry residents vowed to fight to protect it.

The council had originally said it would move the statue from Poole Quay on Thursday over concerns it was on a target list compiled by anti-racism activists.

Campaigners have focused in on Lord Baden-Powell due to his associations with the Nazis and the Hitler Youth programme, as well as his actions in the military.

The statue features on a ‘topple the racists’ website that lists more than 60 statues and memorials across the UK which they argue should be taken down, because they “celebrate slavery and racism”.

The council said the listing “placed the much-loved statue at risk of damage or even destruction”.

It added: “We know that local people feel proud of Lord Baden-Powell’s and the Scout movement’s links with Poole, and that some people feel that we would be giving in to the protesters by temporarily removing the statue.

“However, we feel it is responsible to protect it for future generations to enjoy and respect.”

The council said the statue would not be removed because its “foundations are deeper than originally envisaged” with discussions needed with contractors on how to move it safely.

Twenty four-hour security will be put in place “until it is either removed or the threat diminishes,” the council said.

Authorities across the country are facing pressure to review contentious monuments following protests over the death of George Floyd and racial injustice.

Mr Floyd died after a white police officer held him down by pressing his knee into his neck for almost nine minutes in Minneapolis on May 25.

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