Hundreds of Black Lives Matter protesters march on Trafalgar Square
12 June 2020, 16:59 | Updated: 12 June 2020, 19:37
Hundreds of Black Lives Matter protesters have taken to the streets of London for a demonstration today.
The spontaneous march happened after a protest planned for tomorrow was cancelled after far right groups threatened to show up.
Photos posted to social media show hundreds of protestors gathered in Trafalgar Square, including a group dance on the steps.
Protestors have been told to "stay peaceful" and not engage with any far right counter demonstrators who may turn up.
LBC's correspondent Rachael Venables, who is at the protest, said today's demonstrations began in Hyde Park before the crowd made its way towards Downing Street, with chants of “I can’t breathe” and “Silence is Racism”.
She said around 200 to 300 people were in attendance.
The #BlackLivesMatter march has started moving, heading south on Park Lane - they’re on their way to Downing Street. Chants of “I can’t breathe” and “Silence is Racism” @LBC pic.twitter.com/Likm0wOlSF— Rachael Venables (@rachaelvenables) June 12, 2020
A huge number of police were just used to arrest two men out of the crowd. I’m told it’s not for anything they did today. The crowd are told not to let it distract them from why they’re here today @LBC pic.twitter.com/W2AEZB40nJ— Rachael Venables (@rachaelvenables) June 12, 2020
Hundreds of campaigners congregated at Speaker's Corner at 2pm for a protest in the wake of the death of George Floyd.
They chanted, held banners and performed a two-minute silence to raise awareness of black people oppressed around the world, during which they raised a clenched fist in the air.
A large number of police could also be seen at the event, and two arrests were made so far for reasons unrelated to today.
Police officers were booed as they moved in to detain the two protesters.
Around 20 officers moved through large crowds sitting on the grass to seize a pair of demonstrators and escort them to nearby police vans.
Footage of the arrest, which was undertaken by about a dozen Met Officers on behalf of City of London Police, was circulated on social media.
A spokeswoman for City of London Police said: "The individuals arrested by the Metropolitan Police today are wanted by the City of London Police for matters unrelated to their activity at any of the Black Lives Matter protests.
"As it is an ongoing police investigation we can't provide any more details."
A small but spaced out and growing crowd so far in Hyde Park for today’s #BlackLivesMatter protest. They’ll be here for a few hrs then marching to Downing St.— Rachael Venables (@rachaelvenables) June 12, 2020
Tomorrow’s demo was cancelled after far right groups threatened to show up. @LBC pic.twitter.com/NYvIPg420q
A sprint up Whitehall as the protest passes Churchill’s boarded up statue and then past Downing Street.— Rachael Venables (@rachaelvenables) June 12, 2020
There are many hundreds of people here chanting “no justice, no peace” over and over @LBC pic.twitter.com/jJ3pt1HslQ
Black Lives Matter protesters were urged to "stay calm" if they encountered any counter-rallies as they marched to Trafalgar Square on Friday.
Leaders of the march told others involved to make their demonstration "peaceful" and to not join any anti-racism rallies planned for the weekend, fearing violence would damage their cause.
Hundreds of campaigners surrounded Nelson's Column before 5pm after walking from Hyde Park, as around two dozen police officers watched on.
They marched behind a van branded with the clenched fist emblem, holding up traffic along the way.
Black Lives Matters organisers said they had decided to call off a planned protest at Hyde Park at 1pm on Saturday, warning that “many hate groups” were threatening the safety of those planning to come.
“We want the protests to be a safe space for people to attend,” a post from the BLM LDN organisers said. “However, we don’t think it will be possible with people like them present.”
The far-right groups have claimed they want to protect statues and monuments from being targeted after Churchill’s statue was daubed with graffiti describing the wartime prime minister as a racist on Sunday.
Earlier on Friday, Boris Johnson said violence against police at earlier demonstrations had been "intolerable" and "abhorrent", and that he found it "absurd" the statue of former prime minister Winston Churchill had been boarded up to protect it.