Far-right groups push back as protesters rally in Europe
By Iliana Magra, Elian Peltier and Constant Méheut
Thousands of people rallied against police brutality and racism in European cities Saturday, punctuating a week of protests across the continent, but far-right demonstrators also emerged in large groups for the first time — particularly in London — leading to sometimes violent confrontations that included attacks on police officers.
The anti-racism marches and rallies in Europe, energized by demonstrations in the United States in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, have led to the destruction of statues linked to slavery and demands for a reckoning with racial discrimination. European protesters have denounced the bigotry within their own countries and demanded that authorities address it.
But Saturday was the first day when far-right groups and protesters, most of them white, fiercely pushed back. The situation grew especially tense in London, where crowds of white male counterprotesters clashed repeatedly with police.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, who just a day earlier had criticized the anti-racism demonstrations and exhorted Britons to avoid them, denounced the farright attacks on police as “racist thuggery.” Johnson said the protest marches had been subverted by violence and declared that “racism has no place in the U.K.”