Jon StoneSat, 13 February 2021, 2:35 pm
Pressure is growing on Priti Patel after she branded the anti-racism protest movement Black Lives Matter “dreadful” and criticised the practice of taking a knee.
Nick Thomas-Symonds, the shadow home secretary, said his counterpart’s comments were “unacceptable” and that the Black Lives Matter movement was “a powerful call for change from across society”.
Ms Patel had said she opposed the civil rights protests as “not the right way at all” and also that she opposed the peaceful symbolic gesture of “taking the knee”.
“Last summer was quite a moment with all the protests that we saw taking place,” she had told LBC radio.
“We saw policing as well coming under a great deal of pressure through some of the protest.
“I don’t support protest and I also did not support the protests that were associated.”
Asked whether she would “take a knee”, she said: “No, I would not. I would not have at the time either.”
Ms Patel said there were “other ways in which people can express their opinions”, but did not elaborate on those she believed were acceptable.
On Friday night, Mr Thomas-Symonds said: “The Black Lives Matter movement’s powerful call for change from across society saw so many black people in our country share powerful testimony on the impact of systemic racism.
“To be dismissed like this by the home secretary is unacceptable.”
Ms Patel is the latest Tory to come out against the protests. Last year, the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, claimed that taking a knee was “a symbol of subjugation and subordination”.
The pose is based on one struck by Martin Luther King. Since 2016 it has been adopted as a general symbolic protest against racism.
Meanwhile, the leader of the Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, accused the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, of “loony left-wing wheezes” after Mr Khan announced the creation of a commission to improve diversity in the capital’s public places.