Great Britain

Thousands of Black Lives Matter protesters march on Parliament as rallies take place across the UK

THOUSANDS of Black Live Matters protester marched on Parliament today as rallied took place across the country following the death of George Floyd.

Demonstrators with 'I can't breathe' and 'No justice, no peace' placards met at Black Lives Matter rallies in London, Manchester, Newcastle and Cardiff.

Mr Floyd died after a white police officer held him down by kneeling on his neck in Minneapolis on May 25, sparking days of protests in the US.

Yesterday, the Health Secretary begged Brits not to join in, urging them to avoid mass demonstrations as they breach lockdown rules.

But people have been rallying for justice in the UK all week, with thousands taking to the streets.

Rio and Kate Ferdinand were seen with protesters in London today as boxing champ Anthony Joshua was among the crowds who marched in Watford this afternoon.

Today, more than 15,000 peaceful demonstrators are believed to have gathered around Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester, while a similar turn out was seen outside Parliament Square in London.

In Derry, Northern Ireland, police were filmed interrupting protests by dishing out fines.

Meanwhile, activists held placards which read, "Enough is enough," "Racism is a pandemic too" and "Black Lives Matter" across the UK.

We can no longer sit back and remain silent on the senseless unlawful killings of another human being based on their skin colour.

Anthony Joshua

Boxer Anthony Joshua joined the rally in Watford, North London, wearing a Black Lives Matter T-Shirt - despite being on crutches.

Addressing the crowds, he said: "We can no longer sit back and remain silent on the senseless unlawful killings, sly racism of another human being based only on what? Their skin colour.

"We need to speak out in peaceful demonstrations just like today – so well done Watford. Inject the vaccine.

Protester Jonathan Fashanu and his partner Seleste brought their two children - aged two and nine months - to the rally in central London.

'OUR DADS FOUGHT FOR THE SAME THING'

Mr Fashanu, 35, said: "We just don't want the same thing to happen when they grow up and they get older."

"We had our dads fight for the same thing, it's always been an issue, racism is such a systemic and ingrained problem.

"And we just thought that if we don't take the steps now to come out now and do something about it, we're not giving them a fighting chance to deal with these issues."

An estimated 4,000 people will attend a demonstration in Bristol, which will include a march through the city to Castle Park on Sunday, Avon and Somerset police said.

Today's protests were largely peaceful before tensions between police and demonstrators escalated outside Whitehall.

The Winston Churchill statue was vandalised as pictures show police officers standing in front of the memorial with neon green graffiti defacing it on the 76th anniversary of D-Day.

It appears the world-famous memorial was defaced with letters ACAB - which is believed to stand for 'All Cops Are B******s'.

Shortly afterwards, a police horse charged through a Black Lives Matter protest after a cop was knocked off the saddle.

Video from this evening outside Whitehall shows tension between police in full riot gear and protesters as objects are thrown in the crowd.

Protests across the US had initially been marred by the looting and destroying of shops, and videos of violence between police and crowds quickly spread on social media.

However, peaceful demonstrations have now taken over.

It comes after ministers urged people not to gather in large numbers this weekend, with police warning that mass demonstrations could be unlawful.

Last night, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he was "appalled" by the death of Mr Floyd, but stressed the UK was still facing a health crisis and coronavirus remained a "real threat".

Mr Hancock told the daily Downing Street briefing on Friday he could understand why people were "deeply upset", but said people in the UK should not attend large gatherings.

He said: "Like so many I am appalled by the death of George Floyd and I understand why people are deeply upset but we are still facing a health crisis and coronavirus remains a real threat.

"The reason that it is vital that people stick to the rules this weekend is to protect themselves and their family from this horrific disease.

"So please, for the safety of your loved ones, do not attend large gatherings including demonstrations of more than six people."

His comments were echoed by Home Secretary Priti Patel, who wrote on Twitter: "Please for the safety of all of us, do not attend large gatherings - including protests - of more than six people this weekend.

"As @MattHancock said, coronavirus remains a real threat and people must protect themselves and their families from this horrific disease."

Mr Floyd died after US cop Derek Chauvin brutally knelt on his neck for eight minutes, as Floyd begged him to stop.

In the video Mr Floyd had can heard begging “please, please, please, I can’t breathe”, which has sparked international unrest about the mistreatment of black people by police.

All four cops involved in Mr Floyd's deadly arrest have now been charged with his death - with Derek Chauvin set to face the more serious charge of second-degree murder.

Violence erupts during Black Lives Matters protest as Winston Churchill statue vandalised and officer knocked off horse


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