'Brave' women protesters stand in front of Black Lives Matter crowd to stop them attacking London police

Two women have been praised for standing in front of fellow anti-racism protesters in London to stop them attacking police officers.

Video footage shows how the two women put themselves between police and fellow Black Lives Matter demonstrators during a tense exchange in Whitehall on Sunday.

Thousands of people took to the streets across the UK at the weekend for Black Lives Matter rallies following the death in the US of George Floyd, despite government warnings to stay at home because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Floyd, 46, an African American, was killed in Minneapolis last month after a white police officer held him down by pressing a knee into his neck for nine minutes. Four officers have been charged over his death.

Two women stood between retreating police and protesters in central London on Sunday (Matthew Thompson/Twitter)

While most of the UK protests have been peaceful, there were isolated incidents of violence.

On Monday, the Metropolitan Police said 36 people were arrested and 35 officers were injured during Sunday's anti-racism demonstrations in central London.

Graffiti was daubed on the Winston Churchill statue in Parliament Square, London, on Sunday. (PA)

Graffiti was scrawled on the statue of Sir Winston Churchill in Parliament Square, with spray paint used so the name plate read Churchill "is a racist".

In Bristol, protesters toppled the bronze memorial to slave trader Edward Colston and dumped it into the harbour.

In video footage captured by LBC radio journalist Matthew Thompson, two women repeatedly shout “stop” at protesters throwing projectiles at retreating police officers in Whitehall.

One of the women shouts “stop, stop, stop” as objects fly past her head towards police, as she then tells protesters, “it’s not why we’re here” and “it’s not worth it”.

The women’s actions were praised by Conservative MP and junior foreign office minister, James Cleverly, who tweeted: “Huge respect for the young woman trying to calm things down. Be like her, not like the people throwing things.”

The twitter account Police Community, which represents the UK’s network of policing forums, said: “Good to see people trying to stop the violence.”

LBC presenter Shelagh Fogarty tweeted: “Brave women. One says ‘No, it’s not why we’re here’. Sadly that’s not true for the people chasing and pelting police officers.”

Read more: Protests roll on against 'worldwide' racism

In another video published on Twitter by Thompson, a female protester with a megaphone urges others to move back from police on King Charles Street.

Police clash with protesters during a Black Lives Matter protest rally in Westminster, London, on Sunday. (PA)

She tells them: “Move back. There are children here.”

The arrests in London on Sunday followed 29 in the capital on Saturday, the Metropolitan Police said, when 14 officers were injured during clashes between officers and protesters.

Boris Johnson said the demonstrations had been "subverted by thuggery".

The PM tweeted on Sunday evening: "People have a right to protest peacefully & while observing social distancing but they have no right to attack the police.

"These demonstrations have been subverted by thuggery – and they are a betrayal of the cause they purport to serve.

"Those responsible will be held to account."