George Floyd death: Thousands join UK protests


Thousands of people have gathered across central London to protest against the killing of an unarmed black man by police in the US.

They held up signs saying “Justice for George Floyd”, who died in police custody while an officer kneeled on his neck to pin him down.

Derek Chauvin has been charged with his murder in Minneapolis. The white police officer has been sacked from his job.

During the protests Met Police officers arrested five people.

The protests have been held at Trafalgar Square and outside the US Embassy in Battersea.

Elsewhere in the UK, hundreds marched through Manchester city centre chanting “Black Lives Matter”.

And a similar protest also took place in Cardiff.

Black Lives Matter protest in Trafalgar Square
Image captionThe protesters chanted “black lives matter” and “say my name, George Floyd”

London protesters held up placards saying “racism has no place”, and “I can’t breathe” – a reference to Mr Floyd’s words during his arrest.

The Met Police said officers were present and were engaging with those in attendance, adding an “appropriate policing plan is in place”.

Police arrested five people aged between 17 and 25 outside the US Embassy.

Three of the arrests were for breaching Covid-19 legislation and two were for assaulting police.

Those arrested remain in police custody for questioning.

Black Lives Matter protest in Trafalgar Square
Image captionSome protesters did not appear to follow social distancing guidelines
Black Lives Matter protest in Trafalgar Square
Image captionA white ex-police officer has been charged with Mr Floyd’s murder

Reverend Sally Hitchiner, associate vicar at St Martin-in-the-Fields church on Trafalgar Square, said she could see hundreds gathered for the protest from her workplace.

“I’m very sympathetic to the issue but also surprised to see the strength of emotion that has gathered people together,” she said.

“Clearly they’re not following lockdown and social distancing, but I think there’s a huge amount of passion there and that’s overriding their concerns.

“It’s an issue that requires passion but at the same time there’s a huge amount of risk in what they’re doing.”

She said police appeared to be moving the crowd on from the square by early afternoon.

Black Lives Matter protest at the US Embassy
Image captionThe protest moved on to the US Embassy in Nine Elms
Protest by the US Embassy
Image captionThe road to the US Embassy was blocked

Protesters made their way to the embassy by marching along roads near the River Thames.

Traffic was stopped in several places and protesters were applauded by onlookers.

Police stand behind a protester
Image captionThe Met said “an appropriate policing plan was in place”
Protest by the US Embassy
Image captionProtesters linked arms by the US Embassy

A large portion of the crowd stopped under a railway bridge outside Battersea Park Station.

Four men climbed on top of a bus stop before getting down on one knee and with their right arms in salute in silence, leading the gathered crowd to do the same.

It is a stance made famous by Tommie Smith, the US sprinter who famously raised his fist in protest against racial discrimination during his gold medal ceremony at the 1968 Olympics.

American football player Colin Kaepernick caused outrage when he held the pose during the US anthem as a protest against racial injustice.

Three men demonstrate on top of a bus stop
Image captionDemonstrators encouraged the crowd into a moment of silence, while holding their right arms in the air

Tens of thousands of people have joined nightly protests across the US since the death, with at least 1,600 people arrested in 22 cities as some demonstrations descended into violence.

Hundreds of people marched through Peckham in south London on Saturday in protest against police brutality.

It comes as the US has been rocked by protests over the past five days, many of which turned into violence with cars and buildings set alight and riot police using tear gas and rubber bullets.

Person being led away police
Image captionSeveral people were arrested

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