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'Abhorrent' protesters deface war memorial during VE Day weekend

Police arrest 15 people as violence erupts during anti-austerity protest in Westminster

Graffiti on the Women of World War II memorial in Westminster (photo by @AwesomeOneLuke)

Police have condemned the "abhorrent" actions of protesters who defaced a war memorial in Westminster as the capital commemorated the 70th anniversary of VE Day.

The Women of World War II memorial in Whitehall, which recognises the role women played in the Second World War, was daubed with red paint reading "F*** Tory Scum" during a spontaneous anti-austerity protest outside Downing Street yesterday (Saturday, May 9) afternoon.

A total of 15 people, aged 16 to 45, were arrested as violence flared during the protest against government spending cuts, with five police officers and staff injured.

Chief Superintendent Gerry Campbell, of the Met Police, said: "The vast majority of those protesting did so peacefully however a small minority were intent on causing disorder and engaged in violence, injuring five officers and staff - two of which required hospital treatment. Our best wishes are with those officers and staff at this time.

"We have launched an investigation into criminal damage to the Women in World War II Memorial. This is particularly abhorrent considering we are celebrating the 70th Anniversary of VE Day. I am appealing to anyone who witnessed the criminal damage taking place or may have information regarding those involved to contact Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111."

The graffiti also prompted outrage on Twitter. @AwesomeOneLuke, who took this photo, wrote: "Being unhappy about a Tory government is fair enough, defacing this war memorial on VE Day. Absolutely pathetic."

Police said they responded to the protest at 4pm and the protesters dispersed at around 9pm.

They added that one officer was treated for a suspected dislocated shoulder and a member of police staff suffered a cut lip, with three other officers sustained more minor injuries.

Twelve people were arrested on suspicion of violent disorder and three for assault on police. A 24-year-old man remained in custody this morning, with the other 14 bailed to return for police questioning in early July.

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