Black Lives Matter protester says he desecrated Churchill's statue

‘I tagged the statue of Churchill because he’s a confirmed racist’: Defiant Black Lives Matter protester says he desecrated the wartime PM’s plinth because he fought the Nazis to protect colonialism – NOT for ‘people of colour’

  • Masked man, with a London accent, spoke to the BBC and said he did it because he is ‘p***ed off’
  • Phrase ‘was racist’ had been added in spray paint, leaving monument reading: ‘Churchill was a racist’ 
  • Today group scrubbed graffiti off  statue following Black Lives Matter protests at Parliament Square yesterday
  • One volunteer joined in with clean up and went there because it ‘just felt like it was the right thing to do’
  • Do you know the protesters who damaged the Colston statue or defaced the Churchill plinth? Email [email protected] 

The Black Lives Matter protester who ‘tagged’ the statue of Winston Churchill said he did it because Britain’s greatest Prime Minister was a ‘confirmed racist’ who cared more about colonialism than black people.

The masked young man, who is being searched for by the Metropolitan Police today for the vandalism in Parliament Square, claimed that Mr Churchill only fought the Nazis to protect the empire – not for ‘people of colour’.

Using black spray paint yesterday he daubed the phrase ‘was racist’ below the wartime leader’s name, leaving the monument reading: ‘Churchill was a racist’. A ‘f*** your agenda was also added.

After leaving Parliament Square last night he spoke to a BBC reporter and said: ‘I tagged up the statue of Churchill because he’s a confirmed racist. He fought the Nazis to protect the Commonwealth from invasion – he didn’t do it for black people or for people of colour.

‘It was purely for colonialism. People will be angry – but I’m angry that for many years we have been oppressed’.

He added; You can’t enslave people, have the largest colonial empire in history and be like “Yeah let’s be peaceful – let’s talk”. It don’t work like that. We’re p***ed off. F**k that’. He also said that people from BAME backgrounds who fought in the Second World War are not properly recognised for their sacrifices. 

Critics have flagged the Twitter video to the Met Police to help their investigation – but his supporters have urged the BBC reporter to delete it in case it led detectives to him accusing him of putting the graffiti artist ‘at risk’.

It came as a group of volunteers including four Army cadets cleaned up the memorial to Winston Churchill with their own cleaning products in London this morning.  One, a warehouse worker called Max, 25, who had just finished a night shift and went to Saturday’s protests, also cleaned up, telling MailOnline he went there because it ‘just felt like it was the right thing to do.’ 

A professional cleaner – remarkably called Winston – also turned up to do the job professionally after a group of Tory MPs started scrubbing the plinth before English Heritage officers told them to stop because they ‘would end up doing more damage’.

As the row over Black Lives Matter protests continued today, it also emerged: 

  • Priti Patel today vowed to bring violent protesters to ‘justice’ for attacking police in London and tearing down the Edward Colston statue in Bristol – but some Labour MPs backed its destruction;
  • Policing minister Kit Malthouse said there would need to be a ‘post-mortem’ into how the anti-racism protests across the weekend were enforced – but said it was not practical to arrest all those who took part for breaking coronavirus-related restrictions;
  • Met Police Chief Cressida Dick says she is ‘depressed’ by the violence and said: ‘The violent criminality we saw is disgraceful and will have been frightening’
  • Bristol’s Mayor Marvin Rees says he is in ‘no rush’ to fish out the Edward Colston statue and says when it is pulled from the dock it will probably go to a museum rather than be put back;
  • Sir Keir Starmer has said the toppling of a slave trader statue during Black Lives Matter protests in Bristol was ‘completely wrong’ – but adds the statue should have been removed some time ago;

Activists stand around the Churchill statue yesterday after it was daubed in graffiti during the Black Lives Matter protests

A group of young men of remove graffiti from a statue of Winston Churchill at Parliament Square in London this morning 

Demonstrators raise their fists in the air after climbing onto the statue in Parliament Square during the Black Lives Matters protest on Sunday

It came as the clean-up also began in Bristol as council crews removed BLM placards and used chemicals and spray to clean graffit off the plinth from which the statue of slave trader Edward Colston was torn down yesterday.

Speaking to MailOnline today, Max said: ‘For me it was a decision I made last night. I worked during a long night shift and I received the news that the statue was being defaced. I just felt like it was the right thing to do.

‘It was completely independent, I thought to myself I’d be the only one there. I didn’t mean to antagonise or upset anyone to do it. When I got there I was pleased to see four young Army cadets already cleaning the statue.

‘I did actually attend the Black Lives Matter protest on Saturday in support of the movement. I feel strongly to show solidarity. I understand the actions that carried on late into last night were that of a minority.

‘But I will not have war memorials defaced. The violence and to see the anger and hatred towards the police was very, very hard to watch for me. It came to standing up for what’s right.’ 

Max added: ‘We brought our own cleaning products and they weren’t really up to the job. We only left because remarkably a gentleman called Winston asked us to stop because he’d been asked to do the job professionally.’

Priti Patel today vowed to bring violent Black Lives Matter protesters to ‘justice’ for attacking police in London and tearing down the Edward Colston statue in Bristol as Labour MPs backed its destruction – but police officers battling the activists in the streets say their bosses have got their tactics ‘completely wrong’.

The Home Secretary said that the UK demonstrations following the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis had been ‘subverted by thuggery’ and told those responsible: ‘Justice will follow’.  

Rank-and-file officers left bloodied by attacks with sticks and rocks have today accused their bosses of allowing ‘lawlessness’ to take hold because of public perception instead of allowing them to deal with the attackers ‘more robustly’. 

In Bristol there have been no arrests at all in relation to the destruction of Colston’s statue despite 17 suspects being identified and Avon and Somerset Police have said they have ‘no regrets’ about not stopping it being pulled down and thrown in the city’s harbour.

Labour’s shadow justice secretary David Lammy told ITV’s Good Morning Britain today he backed its destruction: ‘I do absolutely support protest in the incident of the Colston statue. This is a man who transported over 80,000 African men women and children. It’s shameful, shameful – we’re actually discussing whether he should have a statue’.

Since last Wednesday 49 officers in London have been injured but there have only been around 60 arrests – and Ken Marsh, chief of the Met Police Federation, has asked Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick to apologise to her officers and said: ‘Let me be clear, we as a police service can deal with these outbreaks of disorder, no problems. But it seems we are more concerned about image and perception rather than protecting our brave police officers and maintaining order.   

‘It’s sadly now clear – and frankly has been clear for a number of days – that some people are using these protests as an excuse to attack police officers. We have had enough warnings. The tactics being used by the Metropolitan Police are very wrong. And need to be looked at as a matter of urgency.’  

In Bristol yesterday a group armed with ropes and tools dragged down the statue of slave trader Edward Colston in a ‘premeditated’ act of criminal damage and were then allowed to roll it to the city’s dock and hurl it into the water. 

Superintendent Andy Bennett, who was in charge in the city yesterday, said he had ‘no regrets’ about not intervening as activists dragged the statue down – but conceded that officers were ‘duty-bound’ to investigate. He said: ‘As a police officer, I don’t get to choose which laws I uphold and which I don’t. We are duty-bound to investigate this. We know and have identified 17 main offenders in terms of tearing it down and an investigation is underway.’  

The chairman of the Police Federation, which represents all officers in England and Wales, has criticised Avon and Somerset Police for its decision not to intervene in a protest in Bristol where a statue of a slave trader was torn down.

John Apter told BBC Breakfast: ‘To have no police presence there I think sent quite a negative message. I am a police officer so I don’t support this lawlessness we saw where this statue was ripped down and rolled down the street and pushed into the river because that is not how we do things’.

In London 22 officers were injured over the weekend on top of 13 last week after being pelted with objects on Whitehall.   One activist clambered onto The Cenotaph, the war monument dedicated to the millions of lives lost during the First World War, and set fire to the Union Jack flag, while another gang defaced the monument to Winston Churchill in Westminster and daubed ‘was a racist’ on its plinth.  

Police officers were shown being chased down streets and across bridges by protesters throwing bottles and rocks. One Met Police riot unit tackling the violence tweeted a picture of a boulder thrown at them last night and said: ‘No it’s not an asteroid. It’s one of the many things we had thrown at us last night between Parliament Square and Elephant and Castle. Multiple officers injured from our line alone. Unacceptable’. 

Yesterday, one activist even scaled the huge statue to stick a ‘Black Lives Matter’ placard to the wartime leader’s torso. Home Secretary Priti Patel had branded those who had defaced the monument ‘repulsive criminals’.

She said: ‘Winston Churchill is one of the greatest Britons who ever lived. We have him to thank for our very freedom to protest. The vandals who did this are repulsive criminals who I want to see brought to justice.’

A council employee later turned up to clean graffiti from the statue of Winston Churchill at Parliament Square this morning

The volunteers brought their own cleaning products as they tried to remove graffiti from the Churchill statue today

Max, 25, (above) a warehouse worker who attended the BLM protests on Saturday, said he felt compelled to clean the graffiti from Churchill’s statue this morning

Under the Churchill status yesterday, a protester had stuck a sign laying out why they believed he was a racist, saying he called the Indians a ‘beastly’ people and supported the use of poison gas against ‘uncivilised tribes’. 

Some protestors posed for photos in front of the defaced statue and a group of activists took a knee around it in Parliament Square. Four uniformed police stood nearby as the crowd took photographs.

Banners with messages such as ‘British Colonialism is to Blame’ and ‘What if it was your son?’ had been left at the base of the column. A white man later stripped away the banners and walked away as the crowd shouted at him.

The area has become a key gathering place for activists demanding racial justice and opposing the Government. The £30,000 statue was unveiled by his widow Clementine in 1973 and created by Ivor Roberts-Jones.  

Protesters hold placards at the Churchill statue during the Black Lives Matter protest rally in Parliament Square yesterday

It is not the first time it has been defaced. In 2000, it was sprayed with red paint to give the appearance of blood dripping from its mouth, while during the 2010 student protests it was defaced and urinated on.

It comes after the Prime Minister said the anti-racism demonstrations had been ‘subverted by thuggery’ after protesters tore down a statue of a slave trader in Bristol and clashed with police in the capital.

Scotland Yard said 12 people were arrested and eight officers injured in London yesterday, while in Bristol protesters toppled the bronze memorial to slave trader Edward Colston and dumped it into the harbour.

Black Lives Matter demonstrations were carried out peacefully for much of yesterday in London, but there were clashes with police on Whitehall, with bottles thrown at officers in one incident near the Cenotaph.

Most of yesterday’s arrests related to public order offences, while one was for criminal damage following an incident at the Cenotaph. Scotland Yard said 29 people were arrested and 14 officers were injured on Saturday.

Police officers stand in a line next to protesters during a Black Lives Matter protest rally in Westminster today

Police clash with Black Lives Matter protesters during the demonstration in Westminster yesterday 

Police clash with protesters during the Black Lives Matter protest rally in Westminster yesterday

George Floyd (left), a 46-year-old black man, died after white police officer Derek Chauvin (right) put his knee on his neck in Minneapolis on May 25 for nine minutes

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