Thousands join protest in Birmingham after George Floyd death

4 June 2020, 21:24

Black Lives Matter protests
Black Lives Matter protests. Picture: PA

It follows demonstrations in London on Wednesday.

Thousands of protesters gathered in Birmingham for a Black Lives Matter (BLM) demonstration over the death of George Floyd in the US.

Crowds gathered in the city’s Centenary Square on Thursday afternoon, where a silence was observed in memory of Mr Floyd.

Demonstrators, many wearing protective face masks, had been due to congregate in nearby Victoria Square but moved to the larger area to aid social distancing.

Black Lives Matter protests
Protesters gathered in Birmingham city centre on Thursday afternoon (Joe Giddens/PA)

Several hundred people then headed to an area outside West Midlands Police’s Lloyd House HQ, where many of them knelt or sat in the road with their fists raised.

Earlier, Aston Villa defender Tyrone Mings indicated he would attend the rally, telling his 109,000 Twitter followers: “Don’t be afraid to speak your truth. Stand for what’s right.”

The protest came after pockets of protesters clashed with police as thousands of people flooded into central London and abandoned social distancing for a BLM demonstration on Wednesday.

After a largely peaceful demonstration in Hyde Park, during which Star Wars actor John Boyega gave an impassioned speech, tensions later escalated outside Downing Street.

One officer was pushed to the ground in view of the Houses of Parliament, while another clip showed officers being forced down Whitehall by a group advancing towards them.

Other footage showed objects including signs and a traffic cone being thrown at officers, while plastic and glass bottles were also seen being launched in their direction.

Scotland Yard said two men were arrested at Downing Street on suspicion of assaulting an emergency worker and violent disorder.

Mr Floyd died after a white officer held him down by pressing a knee into his neck in Minneapolis on May 25, sparking days of protest in the US.

Demonstrations have taken place in areas including New York, Los Angeles, Miami, South Carolina and Houston, and some have included clashes between police and protesters, with officers recorded firing tear gas and rubber bullets on crowds.

At a memorial to Mr Floyd in Minneapolis on Thursday night, US civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton said he was more “hopeful today than ever” about the fight against racism after seeing marches in London and Germany.

Citing the Bible, he said: “I’m more hopeful today than ever. Why? Well let me go back. Reverend Jackson always taught me stay on your text, go back to your text Ecclesiastes – there is a time and a season.

“And when I looked this time, and saw marches where in some cases young whites outnumbered the blacks marching I know that it’s a different time and a different season.

“When I looked and saw people in Germany marching for George Floyd, it’s a different time and a different season. When they went in front of the Parliament in London, England and said it’s a different time and a different season, I’ve come to tell you America, this is the time of building with accountability in the criminal justice system.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “appalled and sickened” to see what happened to Mr Floyd, while chief constables from across the UK issued a joint statement saying they “stand alongside all those across the globe who are appalled and horrified”.

An online-only rally is due to take place this Sunday, campaign group Stand Up to Racism said, with speakers to discuss “how we turn the new wave of anger over racism and injustice into an effective movement for change”.

Meanwhile, protesters staged a “die in” outside Dominic Cummings’ house on Thursday evening to protest against the Government’s response to coronavirus.

The demonstrators also called for Public Health England to publish its “full findings” of its review which this week found black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people are at significantly higher risk of dying from Covid-19.

By Press Association

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