Sadiq Khan has said that the lack of empathy shown by the Prime Minister over the toppling of the statue of slave trader Edward Colston is “breathtaking”, and suggested that he “try and walk in the shoes of a black person in Bristol”.
In a Sky News interview this afternoon, the Labour mayor of London discussed the Black Lives Matter protests that took place over the weekend and saw tens of thousands of people take to the streets.
He said that the demonstrations have been caused by “legitimate issues we’ve got to address as a country”, and said that it is “unhelpful when the Prime Minister leads with language like ‘thuggery'”.
"I think our Home Secretary and our Prime Minister should try and walk in the shoes of a black person in Bristol."
@SadiqKhan says the lack of empathy shown by Priti Patel and Boris Johnson over the Bristol state is "breathtaking".
— SkyNews (@SkyNews) June 8, 2020
When asked about violence during the protests, he said: “I think we’re in danger of conflating two issues – one is the general concerns that the public have around racism, discrimination and inequality. Two, is our police being able to police a peaceful, lawful, safe protest.”
He added that a “small minority of people acting badly are detracting from what is a really important issue here”, and declared that he “unequivocally” condemns any violence against the police.
The Prime Minister had remained silent on the demonstrations throughout the weekend until Sunday evening, when he tweeted that people “have no right to attack the police” and said that the protests had been “subverted by thuggery”.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said that the bringing down of the statue was “utterly unacceptable” and claimed that it “speaks to the acts of public disorder that have become a distraction from the cause people are protesting about”.
Asked about the statue during an LBC phone-in session this morning, Labour leader Keir Starmer said that “nobody should condone lawlessness” but also that it “should have been taken down a long, long time ago”.
Colston was a member of the Royal African Company, which transported around 80,000 men, women and children as slaves from Africa to the Americas.