Black Lives Matter: Key moments from a weekend of protests

8 June 2020, 12:48 | Updated: 8 June 2020, 12:51

Thousands of people took part in two days of protesting
Thousands of people took part in two days of protesting. Picture: LBC/Matthew Thompson

Thousands of people gathered in cities around the UK for two consecutive days of protesting against racism and police brutality over the weekend.

While the majority of the protests underway were peaceful, there were later reports of violence as tempers flared when protesters stood off with police in London, and the statue of a slaver in Bristol was toppled.

Here, we detail the key moments across the weekend from our LBC journalists, who were reporting on the ground.

Thousands of people joined the protests in London against racism and police brutality
Thousands of people joined the protests in London against racism and police brutality. Picture: LBC/Rachael Venables

Saturday

In London on Saturday, the first day of the demonstrations, protesters were not swayed by the rainy weather as they gathered on Parliament Square.

Many were carrying placards reading "Black Lives Matter", while others carried posters showing the face of George Floyd - a black man who died two weeks ago in the US at the hands of a white police officer.

LBC's Matthew Thompson was there and said that while the rain had not dampened spirits, social distancing appeared to be abandoned.

As the demonstration moved away from parliament, chants of "I can't breathe" were heard - quoting Mr Floyd's now infamous final words as he lay face down on a street in Minneapolis with police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on his neck.

The 46-year-old never regained consciousness after the incident - which was documented in footage shared widely on social media - and Chauvin has since been charged with second-degree murder.

Three other police officers have also been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter.

Mr Floyd's death has incensed America, leading to nationwide protests against racism and police brutality that have inspired similar demonstrations - including those in the UK - around the world.

Scores of protesters took a knee as they reached Downing Street in a move that has become one representative of the movement.

LBC's Rachael Venables said chants of "hands up, don't shoot" were heard, as others sang in unison: "Boris Johnson's a racist".

Scores of people outside Downing Street took a knee, chanting: "Hands up, don&squot;t shoot"
Scores of people outside Downing Street took a knee, chanting: "Hands up, don't shoot". Picture: LBC/Rachael Venables

Later on, tension among protesters began to grow as graffiti was spotted on the Cenotaph - a war memorial on Whitehall.

A number of people were also filmed stamping on - and tearing apart - an effigy of Donald Trump.

The US president has made a number of unpopular comments in response to the ongoing protesting in the US, including one in which he said: "when the looting starts, the shooting starts," and was accused of glorifying violence.

He also has been a key proponent of US states deploying National Guard troops to bring demonstrations under control.

According to Thompson, the atmosphere outside Downing Street later turned "tense" as police and protesters engaged in shoving back and forth.

A smoke bomb was also set off, and bottles thrown.

The protest was dispersed shortly after. In total, 29 people were arrested.

A mounted police officer who was filmed falling from her horse during the demonstration earlier in the day was also reported to have been taken to hospital for surgery.

Her injuries were not said to be life-threatening.

Rachael Venables said the fury was 'palpable'
Rachael Venables said the fury was 'palpable'. Picture: LBC/Rachael Venables
A flare was thrown toward a line of mounted officers
A flare was thrown toward a line of mounted officers. Picture: LBC/Rachael Venables

Sunday

The following afternoon, streets were filled around the US embassy to pay respect to Mr Floyd, before they marched on to Westminster.

The statue of former prime minister Winston Churchill was vandalised in the process.

A second protest took place on Sunday, and started at the US Embassy
A second protest took place on Sunday, and started at the US Embassy. Picture: LBC/Matthew Thompson
The Winston Churchill statue on Parliament Square was vandalised
The Winston Churchill statue on Parliament Square was vandalised. Picture: LBC/Matthew Thompson

As tension, again, began to grow in central London, Thompson said the atmosphere was angry, albeit initially peaceful along Whitehall.

A smoke bomb was lit along the iconic street as protesters cried: "Stop killing the mandem."

Another made an impassioned speech about the importance of avoiding violence, Thompson added.

Anger began to bubble over later into the afternoon as one person was spotted making an ill-fated attempt to set fire to a flag on the Cenotaph war memorial.

Police began to push protesters back as they called for the person to climb down.

Meanwhile, in Bristol, the statue of slave trader Edward Colston was torn down from its podium, before tossed into the nearby river.

Home Secretary Priti Patel later said the incident was "utterly disgraceful" and had served as a "distraction from the cause in which people are actually protesting about."

Back in the capital, Thomson said fireworks had been thrown at police on Whitehall, resulting in riot officers creating a blockade to calm tensions.

Later, he said the atmosphere was starting to "lose control" as officers were attacked with bottles, traffic cones and other objects.

At least one person was spotted being carried away by police after an arrest.

A number of protesters also tried to intervene and stop the violence as it progressed.

One protester was carried away by several police after being arrested
One protester was carried away by several police after being arrested. Picture: LBC/Rachael Venables
One person was arrested outside Downing Street after climbing over the barriers
One person was arrested outside Downing Street after climbing over the barriers. Picture: LBC/Rachael Venables

Boris Johnson tweeted on Sunday evening that demonstrations had been "subverted by thuggery" as people were gathered outside his residence - 10 Downing Street.

He wrote: "People have a right to protest peacefully and while observing social distancing, but they have been subverted by thuggery - and they are a betrayal of the cause they purport to serve.

"Those responsible will be held to account."

A small group of protesters sat in central London into the evening, singing: "Where is the Love"
A small group of protesters sat in central London into the evening, singing: "Where is the Love". Picture: LBC/Rachael Venables

Venables, who was outside Downing Street, said a "tiredness settled" among protesters as the weekend soon came to a close.

A small crowd that were not trapped by police were later in the evening seen sitting in the street singing: "Where is the love" as a line of officers looked on.

A total of 12 people were arrested on Sunday in London, the Metropolitan Police said. A further eight officers were injured.

Comments

Loading...

Happening Now