A Black Lives Matter protester has reportedly been injured after a police horse bolted through the crowds as projectiles were hurled.
The officer on the horse was also knocked off during the demonstration in central London as emotions became heightened with people gathered to show solidarity with George Floyd.
One shocking image shows a police officer laying flat on the ground, while other pictures appear to show the horses agitated by the swarms of people gathered.
Mark White, Sky News Home Affairs correspondent, speaking from the scene described how there had been “a very serious escalation of disorder” in Whitehall, outside Downing Street.
He said: “The Metropolitan Police have just brought in mounted officers who just mounted a charge down Whitehall from the war memorial down to the cenotaph.
“You can see one of the officers has been knocked off his horse, that horse has now bolted.
“There are bottles and other objects being thrown at the mounted officers.
“In Downing Street, the other police officers who were guarding the gates in front of Downing Street have gone into full riot kit and have brought their riot shields out as well.”
Videos circulating on social media appear to show missiles being thrown at officers in protective gear.
A bicycle was also reportedly thrown towards a police horse.
According to the Daily Mail, red flares were thrown over security gates at Downing Street.
Police in helmets and holding shields formed two lines outside of Downing Street, with mounted officers in-between to separate the crowds.
Some protesters linked arms and turned their backs to police to stop themselves being moved on.
A few demonstrators stood on walls outside of the Cabinet Office, holding signs and chanting.
Missiles were said to be launched at officers for around ten minutes, including fireworks and bangers.
Graffiti was also daubed on buildings on Whitehall, including the Cabinet Office.
A small “BLM” motif has been painted on the Cenotaph in black paint, while cardboard placards have been propped up on the war memorial’s steps.
Earlier today, Winston Churchill’s statue in Parliament Square was vandalised as thousands took part in the rally.
Police officers surrounded the monument after green graffiti was scribbled on it.
Pictures show some demonstrators climbing onto the statue while holding placards.
It comes after a largely peaceful demonstration which started earlier on Saturday afternoon.
Hundreds fell silent and went down on one knee while raising one fist in the air.
The crowds then began chanting “no justice, no peace” and George Floyd’s name.
Pictures showed the majority of demonstrates wearing face masks, with others using gloves and hand sanitiser.
Meanwhile more than a thousand protesters marched past the U.S. Embassy on the south bank of the River Thames, blocking traffic and holding placards.
“I have come down in support of black people who have been ill-treated for many, many, many, many, years. It is time for a change,” said one protester, 39-year-old primary school teacher Aisha Pemberton.
Another protester, 32-year-old IT specialist Kena David, said Britain was guilty of racist abuses too. “Everything you see around you is built off the backs of black and brown bodies.”
Many wore masks and social distancing measures were encouraged during events in London, Manchester, Cardiff, Sheffield and Newcastle, among other cities.
Placards carried by demonstrators referenced the coronavirus crisis, with one saying: “There is a virus greater than Covid-19 and it’s called racism.”
As the rally began, one organiser used a megaphone to tell the crowds: “We are not here for violence.
“Today is sheer positivity, today is sheer love.”
Protester Bobbi, 26, from Chingford, London, who did not give her last name, said: “We’re literally living in the history books, we’re going to be teaching our future children about this and I want to say I was here to support that.”
Thousands of protesters packed central Manchester. They chanted and clapped in unison and held home-made placards bearing the initials BLM.
Several hundred marchers gathered in Newcastle, while thousands more watched an online protest organised in the north-east of England.
Demonstrators gathering at the Earl Grey Monument in the city centre were handed masks if they did not have one, while hand sanitiser was available.
Dr Christina Mobley, a lecturer who came to Newcastle University from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, attended with her five-year-old daughter.
The historian, who is leading the project to decolonise the university curriculum, said: “I absolutely felt the need to be here today. The organisers have done an amazing job.
“It is really powerful to see such a young, motivated crowd coming out and organising themselves, handing out masks and working with the police.”
She took a photo of one of the police officers who had taken off his helmet during the silence for Mr Floyd.
Meanwhile, an online protest organised by Stand Up To Racism – North East drew an audience of several thousand, who listened to speakers including Janet Alder, whose brother Christopher died in police custody in Hull in 1998.
In Sheffield, hundreds of people gathered on Devonshire Green to protest and hold a minute’s silence.
During the gathering, which included speeches, they chanted: “No justice, no peace, no racist police.”
Saturday’s protests reflect global anger over police treatment of ethnic minorities, sparked by the May 25 killing of Floyd when a white police officer detaining him knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes as fellow officers stood by.
Tens of thousands of people chanting “no justice, no peace, no racist police” marched through central London on Wednesday.
Demonstrators took to the streets in many European and Asian cities on Saturday.
Before Saturday’s protest in London, the U.S. ambassador to Britain, Woody Johnson, issued a statement condemning Floyd’s death and said America needed to do more to fight racism and injustice.
“It is through peaceful protests that injustice is most successfully addressed,” he said.