Home Secretary Priti Patel speaks at Downing Street, London, Thursday, Jan 21, 2021. Credit: AP Photo/Matt Dunham, pool

UK home secretary, Priti Patel, has called the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020 “dreadful” and said she does not support taking a knee.

The BLM protests were sparked by the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis, USA. Outrage grew as the world witnessed a police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, even after he had lost consciousness.

The protests spread throughout the United States and the rest of the world, drawing attention to police brutality and racial discrimination.

In Britain, the demonstrations took place in more than 260 towns and cities in June and July, and were the largest anti-racism protests in the country for decades.

During the protests, crowds toppled statues of slave traders such as Edward Colston in Bristol and vandalised a memorial to Sir Winston Churchill in central London with the words “is a racist”.

The Black Lives Matter protesters marching in England during lockdown. AP Images.

Since then, multiple tributes to racist, colonialist figures and slave traders in the UK have been taken down with hundreds more under review by local authorities.

This morning, in a radio interview with LBC Radio, Patel stated that she does not support such actions.

“There are other ways in which people can express their opinions, protesting in the way that people did last summer was not the right way at all… I didn’t support the protests. Those protests were dreadful,” she said.

After being interrupted, the Home Secretary quickly pointed out that she supports the right to protest but cannot agree with the “dreadful” actions of BLM marchers.

Patel added that she takes issue with statue removals and changes to street names that belong to racially divisive figures. “Quite frankly, I didn’t support that attempt to re-write history,” she said. “I felt that that was wrong.”

Ending the interview, Patel called the 2020 protests nothing short of “hooliganism” and “thuggery” and said: “It is indefensible.”