June 4, 2020 / 8:25 PM / a month ago

Fact check: London’s Cenotaph war memorial was not defaced during an anti-racism protest on June 3  

Update June 8:

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

This check has been updated to add a paragraph reporting that the Cenotaph, while not defaced on June 3, was later marked with graffiti on June 6.


Posts on social media have misleadingly claimed that the Cenotaph war memorial in London was defaced during an anti-racism protest.

Thousands gathered in central London on June 3 to protest the death of George Floyd; an unarmed black American who died after a white policeman knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes (here) .

Many of the posts making the claim, examples here and here , show a video of protesters gathered around the Cenotaph in Whitehall. The camera then pans to a man graffitiing ‘BLM’ on the side of a building.

“The cenotaph, London. Defaced as they police simply watch,” the caption of one such post reads.

The building the man is filmed graffitiing is the UK government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, not the Cenotaph memorial (tinyurl.com/ya4lo5u2) .

City of Westminster Police said on Twitter: “We are aware of incorrect social media rumours of damage being caused to the Cenotaph during protests in #Whitehall. We are not aware of any damage.” (here)

This corresponds with a YouTube video that is described as showing the Cenotaph after the protests. In the video, the ‘BLM’ graffiti is seen on the Foreign Office building, but the Cenotaph appears unmarked. The video was uploaded on June 4 and has a caption stating it was filmed the morning after the protests (here) .

A separate video posted to social media by a radio journalist on the afternoon of June 3 shows protesters gathered around the base of the Cenotaph, with one protester standing between the flags on the memorial itself (here) .

Further protests happened in London over the weekend of June 6 and 7. On June 6, a radio reporter posted an image showing the Cenotaph had been daubed with graffiti (here) and Forces News ran a report on June 8 about the subsequent cleaning of the memorial (here).


False. The Cenotaph was not defaced during an anti-racism protest in London on June 3.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact checking work here here . 

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