London George Floyd protest: Activists scuffle with police amid high tensions as thousands descend on Westminster for anti-racism march

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The anti-racism protests in Westminster have seen skirmishes breaking out between demonstrators and police. Thousands gathered in Hyde Park at 1pm on Wednesday before marching towards Parliament to protest against discrimination in the UK. But after a peaceful start to the day bottles and objects were thrown at officers and physical altercations broke out as tensions rose later in the afternoon.

The Met Police said that two people were arrested on suspicion of assaulting an emergency worker and violent disorder by the entrance to Downing Street, where some of the chaos first erupted.

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The demonstrations were organised in response to the death of African-American man George Floyd in Minneapolis. Protests, some violent, have spread across the US after a white police officer was filmed kneeling on the neck of Mr Floyd for minutes. The 46-year-old later died in police custody.

In London, witnesses said that one officer had been punched while another said a protester had fallen over the police barricades by Downing Street (AFP via Getty Images)

In London, some officers were seen "taking a knee" earlier in the day, however as protesters knelt at 6pm none of the officers joined them.

Witnesses said that an officer had been punched when a protester fell over the police barricades by Downing Street, sparking mayhem. But freelance journalist Mattha Busby, who filmed the choas and said it was "unclear exactly what started things". "Police appeared to attempt to take a man from the crowd and pandemonium ensued," he tweeted.

A number of videos shared on social media showed a number of violent skirmishes shaking Westminster throughout the evening and as of 9:30pm police were still facing down protesters. Footage captured various objects, including signs, bottles and a traffic cone, being thrown at police. One protester was wrestled to the ground and restrained by officera

A cameraman was later attacked during the protests and police escorted the man to the side of the road with blood over his clothes and camera after he sustained a head injury.

Moments before, protesters began to run and chant while a glass bottle was thrown towards a camera (REUTERS)

During the evening, a group of protesters climbed up onto the window sills on the outside of the Treasury building, where they chanted and held placards. A short while later, a crowd descended on police - who were wearing helmets and holding batons - outside of the Cabinet Office, which has been daubed with "BLM" in black paint

Police scuffle with protesters in Westminster (AFP via Getty Images)

Officers then formed a line outside Downing Street, as protesters, some on bikes, chanted, before more police vans arrived. At one point, protesters outside Downing Street blocked off a number of vehicles on Parliament Street, including a DHL truck which was forced to turn around outside the gates of No 10.

Crowds chanted "move your truck" at the driver and sat on the floor blocking its way, before cheering as the vehicle began to reverse.

Protesters also pushed a line of police into Parliament Square (PA)

But after turning around, the truck was blocked by another group of protesters using red and white tape to section off the road near Westminster Station. Protesters booed a group of officers as they moved away from the crowd.

London police officer takes the knee with George Floyd protesters

Another crowd followed a group of officers to outside the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, where protesters shouted "answer for your crimes" and "no justice, no peace". Officers formed two lines and rested their batons on their shoulders, shouting "get back" to protesters as they separated the crowds.

Many climbed onto the window ledges of a neighbouring building as others talked with a line of police outside the gates to the stree

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Several hundred protesters were also at Trafalgar Square. By 9pm, more than 10 Metropolitan Police territorial support group vans have gathered at Parliament Square in Westminster, where the majority of the protesters remained at 9pm. A group of protesters knelt in front of the vans, chanting "let us live" and holding up their placards.

The Evening Standard have contacted the Met Police for comment.

More about: | Downing Street | police protests | Westminster | anti-racism | Demonstrations | George Floyd

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