British PM Johnson says will not ignore anger over racial injustice

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he "heard" the message from those protesting.
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he "heard" the message from those protesting.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

LONDON (REUTERS) - Prime Minister Boris Johnson told his top ministers on Tuesday (June 9) that there was more to be done to eradicate prejudice and create opportunity in Britain but society was much less racist than it was before, his spokesman said.

"The PM said we are a much, much less racist society than we were but we must also frankly acknowledge that there is so much more to do in eradicating prejudice and creating opportunity," the spokesman told reporters.

Johnson also said he "heard" the message from those protesting after the killing of African-American George Floyd but that such action should not lead to violence, unlawful actions or the disregarding of social distancing, the spokesman said.

Britain has seen days of protests sparked by the death in police custody of Floyd.

On Sunday, protesters defaced a central London monument to World War II leader Winston Churchill, citing policies blamed for the death of millions during famine in the Indian state of Bengal in 1943.

In the south-western city of Bristol, crowds toppled a statue of 17th century trader Edward Colston, who helped build the city but played a leading role in slavery.

Years of local debate over what to do with the statue came to an end when it was thrown in the harbour - an act that has stirred debate about other historical monuments.

Calls have mounted across the country for a reassessment of the way historical figures are portrayed in public spaces, as part of a wider debate about inequality and prejudice.