Thousands gather for peaceful Black Lives Matter protests across UK

21 June 2020, 18:55

Pictures from the march from Trafalgar square via Charing Cross Road and final stop at Parliament Square
Pictures from the march from Trafalgar square via Charing Cross Road and final stop at Parliament Square. Picture: PA

By Matt Drake

Thousands of people across the UK came together for the fourth weekend in a row of Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests.

This weekend's demonstrations have been much more subdued and peaceful. It is a markedly different kind of protest to last weekend which saw 113 people arrested and several people, including police officers, being subjected to violence and racist abuse.

Marches took place on Sunday in London and Leeds as part of the latest wave of BLM protests. The protests began in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, US, who died in police custody.

Demonstrators gathered in Hyde Park before marching towards Downing Street where the Prime Minister lives.

Crowds also assembled in Leeds' Woodhouse Moor park to march and listen to speeches.

Police were seen guarding the Queen Victoria monument in Woodhouse Moor which was defaced earlier this month.

Pictures of BLM protesters on June 21 gathering at Parliament Square
Pictures of BLM protesters on June 21 gathering at Parliament Square. Picture: PA

A total of 10 people have now been charged with offences in connection with the BLM protests and far-right counter-demonstrations in London over the past three weekends, Scotland Yard said.

The Metropolitan Police has now released images of a total of 48 suspects they want to speak to in connection with violence at the protests, with police pelted with missiles, smoke grenades, glass bottles and flares.

A fresh appeal for 13 new suspects was made on Saturday afternoon, with Scotland Yard saying the suspects are believed to have been involved in racist abuse and serious violence against the public and police.

Metropolitan Police Commander Alex Murray said: "Whilst the vast majority of people who have attended demonstrations over the past few weeks were not violent, there have a small minority intent on violence against our officers and others, and this is completely unacceptable and we are working hard to bring offenders to justice.

"Officers will be making arrests if there is violence."

The organisation that represents rank-and-file police officers in England and Wales has called on the Home Secretary to ban all protests while the threat of Covid-19 remains.

Police Federation chairman John Apter said Priti Patel must be "unequivocal" in stating that large gatherings are not allowed.

But Downing Street said any ban is an "operational matter" for senior officers to apply to the Home Secretary for.

Separately, anti-racism protesters gathered in Glasgow City Centre on Saturday despite being warned to stay away by police.

The city's George Square has been the scene of clashes in recent weeks, with far-right groups organising counter-protests to "protect statues".

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