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UK News

'There is no excuse for arson, riots and looting': Christian MP defends support of US response to violent protests

by Heather Preston

A Christian MP has been criticised for condoning the US President's response to protests over the death of an unarmed black man and remarking that rioters "have it coming".

George Floyd died after a white officer held him down by pressing a knee into his neck in Minneapolis on 25th May, sparking days of Black Lives Matter protests which have led to violence in some parts of the country.

In response, President Donald Trump declared that military force would be employed in a bid to control the riots.

Some cities have reported police officers tear gassing and spraying protesters with rubber bullets.

In a letter sent to Sir Desmond Swayne MP, a constituent asked if he would condemn Donald Trump's actions arguing that preventing people protesting threatens the right to freedom of speech.

The Conservative MP for New Forest West responded by saying: "Racism is a cancer and I'm glad the perpetrator is on a murder charge. 

"Nevertheless, looters, arsonists and rioters have it coming".

Speaking to Premier, Swayne explained that although he acknowledges the need to respond to the injustice of racism through peaceful protest, he doesn't think it justifies the violence that has followed.

"What happened in the United States was ghastly and awful. And I think we have to always be vigilant in our own country that the same sort of pervasive racism never gets abroad here.

"There is no excuse for arson, riots and looting and therefore any measures to prevent that seems perfectly reasonable.

"Peaceful protest is fine, but what we've seen in the US is not peaceful," he said.
On Wednesday, thousands more gathered in London's Hyde Park to chant "black lives matter" and "we will not be silent" in solidarity with those demonstrating in the United States.

In the House of Commons, the Prime Minister condemned the killing of Mr Floyd but also appealed for any demonstrations to be peaceful.

Swayne remarked that every person needs to be vigilant to the issue of racism but said he doesn't consider the issue to be as urgent for those in the UK.

"It's perfectly proper for people to make peaceful demonstrations in sympathy with what's happened in the United States and I'm entirely in favour of that.

"But it's not of the same level of urgency [here]. We haven't had the murder that took place in the United States. And we haven't got that repeated history of similar events. But it's important that we address the issue."

Swayne encouraged Christians to pray for wisdom on how best to address these issues, and to deal with the real anger and frustration that many people feel towards this injustice.

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