Great Britain

500 people gather for Black Lives Matter protest in Durham

Hundreds of people gathered in Palace Green outside of the Cathedral in Durham to peacefully protest Black Lives Matter.

The protest was organised by Greg Venyo and Jerome Yates who advertised it on Facebook.

It came after George Floyd, an American black man, was killed by a white policeman.

Protests have occurred across America and the UK, with a demonstration also taking place in Newcastle this afternoon.

Around 500 people gathered at the Durham protest holding placards, signs and banners reading 'Black Lives Matter', 'Silence is Violence', and 'Silence is Consent'.

Organisers urged people to keep their distance and most people attending the protest wore masks and gloves. 

The Northern Echo:

Greg said: "We completely intend it to be peaceful. We have gathered today just to send a message and speak to people.

"There is a massive pay gap between white people and ethnic minorities in the UK.

"We understand every life matters but people get marginalised - we felt this was the best thing to do."

The Northern Echo:

The organisers and several protestors spoke this afternoon with some starting chants of 'George Floyd'.

Protestors then knelt for George Floyd for eight minutes and 46 seconds the amount of time the police officer's knee was pinned on his neck for.

Greg said: "What went on in the US was systemic racism. We're trying to get people to think about what's happened in America. We can contribute in another way. We want people to speak up and be active.

"Durham is such an accepting community, it's a community that can help us build change."

The Northern Echo:

Jerome said: "I made a page on Facebook and got people to share it. We spoke to police. 

"This is the best way to go about expressing our feelings.

"I think for our region it's getting people on board with it and to speak up. What we do in our region can have a ripple effect.

"We've got to understand that some people will never understand but you have to sympathise on how it would make you feel and change other's beliefs. We're not trying to force anything on anyone.

"The police said they have no interest in stopping our protests - I really wanted an open dialogue - to raise awareness - they were very accommodating and recommended we move to Palace Green instead of the Market Place."

The Northern Echo:

Black Lives Matter protest in Newcastle

Counter-protestors gathered in the Market Place standing near statues. Around 100 people turned up but were moved on by police.

Ian Pearson said: "Everyone has got a right to protest – but I do disagree with the fact they deface our monuments which represent our war heroes. You can protest peacefully.”

However, no damage was done to any monuments or statues and protestors dispersed peacefully.

Mike Hartman, spokesperson for Tyne and Wear Anti-Fascist Association, said: “I thought it was a successful protest it shows how people feel about the whole issue and that Black Lives Matter.

“Stuff has been going on up and down the country and people have still gone along – despite the pandemic.

“I think it will certainly keep the issue at the forefront of people’s minds – but I don’t think the issue is going to go away. It is part of a worldwide phenomenon.

“It’s upsetting that the far right is driven by racism. This rubbish about the statues and monuments was the excuse they needed to gather in the town centre.”

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