Thousands Of Anti-Racism Protesters Nationwide Take To The Streets

Sarah Turnnidge

Thousands of Black Lives Matter protesters across the UK have taken to the streets for a second week of anti-racism demonstrations in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. 

The protests – held on Saturday in a number of cities including London, Manchester, Leicester, Peterborough and Cardiff – follow almost two weeks of huge protests against police brutality in the US.

Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, was killed in Minneapolis on May 25 by Derek Chauvin, a white police officer who was filmed kneeling on his neck for almost nine minutes. 

While campaigners are standing in solidarity with their American counterparts, the protests are also highlighting racism in the UK itself, with many signs making reference to BAME deaths in custody, the Windrush scandal, hostile environment policies and the recent death of Belly Mujinga. 

Pictures from demonstrations across the UK show crowds of people gathering outside the Houses of Parliament in London, in Manchester’s Piccadilly Gardens and Bute Park in Cardiff.

The majority of the demonstrators appear to be wearing masks and face coverings, with some also opting for gloves.

Outside the US embassy in London, protesters dropped to one knee and raised their fists in the air, chanting “silence is violence” and “colour is not a crime”.

Placards carried by demonstrators referenced the coronavirus crisis, with one that said: “There is a virus greater than Covid-19 and it’s called racism.”

Many other signs said “black lives matter” and “no justice, no peace”.

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.”

She added: “Today we will not commit any violence to anyone.”

Protesters were also reminded to try and keep a two metre distance from others where possible and to be mindful of the pandemic.

During a minute’s silence in Parliament Square, hundreds of protesters 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.

Violence broke out between police and demonstrators after officers on horseback charged in an effort to separate the crowd outside Downing Street.

Officers in helmets and holding shields had formed two lines outside of Downing Street, which separated the crowd.

Police then tried to force demonstrators further down Whitehall, with some protesters linking arms and turning their backs to stop themselves being moved on.

A flare was reportedly thrown at the mounted horses, and an officer was thrown from their horse after “riding into a traffic light”, Sky news reported.

A mounted police officer lays on the road after being unseated from their horse, during a demonstration on Whitehall. (Photo: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS via Getty Images)

Graffiti was reportedly daubed on on buildings on Whitehall, including the Cabinet Office, and a small “BLM” motif was painted on the Cenotaph in black paint. 

Several hundred marchers gathered in Newcastle while thousands more watched an online protest organised in the North East.

Demonstrators gathering at the Earl Grey Monument in the city centre were handed masks if they did not have one, and there was hand sanitiser available.

Dr Christina Mobley, a history 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.”

Love HuffPost? Become a founding member of HuffPost Plus today.

 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.”

Protests are set to continue on Sunday, with Bristol, Edinburgh and Nottingham among the UK cities expecting thousands of attendees. 

Related...

Shielding From Covid-19, I Can’t Physically Protest For Justice. I Still Want To Be Heard

The Police Officers Who Killed Breonna Taylor Are Still Free

Little Mix Star Leigh-Anne Pinnock Shares Emotional Video About Racism

This article originally appeared on HuffPost.