Police mocked for defending Churchill statue during ‘Kill the Bill’ protest

Police stand guard around the statue of wartime prime minister Winston Churchill in Parliament Square
Police stand guard around the statue of wartime prime minister Winston Churchill in Parliament Square

Police have been mocked for standing guard around a statue of Winston Churchill during ‘Kill the bill’ protests.

Yesterday, protesters congregated in Parliament Square in London to express their opposition against the police, crime, sentencing and courts bill. The bill, which passed its second reading in parliament last month, will allow the police to place more conditions on peaceful protests.

But, amid a day that saw more than 100 arrests and scuffles between police and protestors, people have expressed incredulity at the police for their allocating resources to the Churchill statue.

Last summer, the statue was sprayed with graffiti during a Black Lives Matter demo, with protesters daubing “was a racist” on the plinth. It was later boarded up – something Prime Minister Boris Johnson branded as “absurd and shameful”. Since then, officers have regularly guarded the statue during protests in Westminster.

But Huck journalist Ben Smoke said the statue had been “largely ignored” by protesters at the latest demonstration.

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While writing on Twitter, author Emma Kennedy said:

Writer Jonn Elledge added:

It comes amid a growing a fierce debate about statues in the UK. Following the death of George Floyd, Bristol protesters pulled down a statue of slave trader Edward Colston causing a wave of similar anti-statue activity across the UK, with protesters arguing the UK should not commemorate those associated with Britain’s controversial past.

The government has responded by calling for the protection of statues and claiming those who remove them are tampering with British history. Last year, Johnson said Britain should not be embarrassed about its history and the new police bill even contains a clause that could see those defacing a statue see 10 years in prison.

The bill will also put limits on protests including those conducted by just one person, with limits such as imposing a start and finish time, setting noise limits, and increasing fines for those refusing to follow police instructions to up to £2,500.

Those against it have called it an attack on the right to protest and protests also took place in other cities yesterday including Bristol and Sheffield. The London protest was attended by Labour MPs including former leader of the party, Jeremy Corbyn.

But it seems the Metropolitan Police had its finger firmly on the pulse of the most important issue at hand yesterday:

Indy100 has contacted the Metropolitan Police for comment.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the statue confirmed it was “thriving”.

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