Nearly 30 officers were injured after a street party descended into violence, according to a police chief.
Footage on social media showed police vehicles being smashed and officers pelted with bottles and chased during clashes with a large crowd near the Angell Town estate in Brixton, south London.
Britain’s Home Secretary Priti Patel described the scenes as “utterly vile” and said she would be speaking to Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick.
Police said they were called to reports of a “large unlicensed music event” in Overton Road on Wednesday night, and officers tried to “encourage the crowd to leave”.
A Scotland Yard statement said: “The event continued and more officers attended the scene and the group became hostile towards officers.”
Last night @LambethMPS responded to calls from local residents, concerned about a large gathering in Brixton.
We encouraged the crowd to leave, but they did not engage. At least 15 officers injured, 2 required hospital treatment.
— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) June 25, 2020
One witness, who did not want to be named, told the PA news agency: “After the police backed up, the group of people then forced the police out of the estate, throwing things at the police, smashed up a police car that they abandoned and then it moved more towards the main road.”
Bus driver Michael, who did not wish to share his second name, lives in Overton Road and said it was “very upsetting” that the violence happened in his area.
“The whole thing should have been shut down earlier,” he said.
“People who live here are not the culprits, it’s those damn fools from different areas that come down to tarnish the works and efforts that have been put into the area by the estate management.”
Four people are in custody after arrests were made for assault and public order offences, the Metropolitan Police said.
The force said a total of 22 officers were injured, two of whom required hospital treatment, while a small number of police vehicles were damaged.
15 more colleagues injured in deplorable scenes. Police officers are not punchbags. This violence is despicable. We wish our injured colleagues all well. https://t.co/BhrT5ONNq3
— Met Police Federation (@MPFed) June 25, 2020
But Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, told PA that nearly 30 of his colleagues were hurt, including “walking wounded”, and described the incident as “absolutely shocking”.
“It’s a very, very difficult situation that my colleagues are faced with, with an unlawful event taking place and upon arrival they are met with hostility from the off,” he said.
“No-one expects this level of violence and hostility to just erupt at the speed it does towards police. It’s horrendous.
“We are rufty-tufty and can deal with violent disorder but it’s not pleasant and it’s not nice to have to go somewhere where someone wants to try and kill you.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said that large gatherings during the Covid-19 pandemic are “deeply irresponsible and risk others’ lives”.
“I’m in touch with the Met Police about the completely unacceptable events in Brixton overnight. Violence against the police will not be tolerated,” he added.