Crowds of pro-statue campaigners had earlier surrounded the monument of Winston Churchill, which has been boarded up over concerns it could become a “flashpoint” for violence.
They later peeled off to the Cenotaph, where they rushed up to the police blockage and pelted them with bottles and cans.
Among them were war veterans, football fans and far-right groups including Britain First, massing in clear breach of social-distancing guidelines.
But some of the worst scenes took place in Trafalgar Square, where officers struggled to keep them away from BLM activists.
Earlier this afternoon, police were seen blocking all the exits to London’s Parliament Square.
Some demonstrators jumped a fence into the grounds of Westminster Abbey in order to leave.
Home Secretary Priti Patel hit out at the ‘thugs’, tweeting: “Thoroughly unacceptable thuggery.
“Any perpetrators of violence or vandalism should expect to face the full force of the law. Violence towards our police officers will not be tolerated.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you…
— Piers Morgan 👁🗨 ᴾᵃʳᵒᵈʸ (@PiersMogan_GMB) June 13, 2020
— Grayzer (@grayzer1893) June 13, 2020
More violence against police on Bridge street, next to Big Ben. pic.twitter.com/tazFZTefFn
— Vinnie O'Dowd (@VinnieoDowd) June 13, 2020
“Coronavirus remains a threat to us all. Go home to stop the spread of this virus and save lives.”
Hundreds of demonstrators and veterans had gathered in the capital to “protect” the Cenotaph and statue of Winston Churchill as a Black Lives Matter organiser urged activists to stay away.
Several were seen wearing military-style hats or jackets.
Paul Golding, the leader of far-group group Britain First, was pictured in the crowd wearing a ‘White Lives Matter’ T shirt.