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Tuesday, Jan 19, 2021

UK: Thousands take the knee for George Floyd at Parliament Square protest

Anti-racism protesters hit the streets in cities across Britain today as uproar continues over the death of George Floyd.
Despite Government pleas to avoid groups of more than six to prevent the spread of coronavirus, thousands of people filled Parliament Square demonstrating against police brutality against black people.

Riots spread across the US after a video emerged of a white Minneapolis officer pressing his knee on a handcuffed Mr Floyd’s neck for nine minutes as he repeatedly cried ‘I can’t breathe’. Since then protests against white supremacy have spread across the world.

On Wednesday thousands gathered in Hyde Park calling for racial equality, chanting ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘No Justice, No Peace’. Star Wars actor John Boyega made an impassioned speech in which he paid tribute to a number of black people whose lives have been cut short.

At yesterday’s Downing Street press conference Health Secretary Matt Hancock urged people to avoid demonstrations of more than six people as social distancing rules still apply. He said: ‘Like so many of you I am appalled by the death of George Floyd. I understand why people are deeply upset. But we are still facing a health crisis and coronavirus remains a real threat.’

However the majority of people in Parliament Square were wearing masks and face coverings, with some also using gloves and hand sanitiser gel. Some placards referred to the pandemic, 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. 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.

Attendees were reminded to try and keep a two metre distance from others when they can.

For many this will be impossible to stick to, but many feel the cause they are fighting is important enough to take the risk.

Some of today’s protesters are currently heading towards the headquarters of the Home Office, which is responsible for the UK’s policing.

Boxer Anthony Joshua walked on crutches as joined a rally in Watford, north London while protests are being held in several other cities and towns including Newcastle, Manchester, Newcastle and Swansea.

Demonstrators are also due to march to the US Embassy in London at 2pm tomorrow as another round of rallies will take place across the country.

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