United Kingdom

Thousands of protesters take the knee at Black Lives Matter demonstration in Parliament Square 

Thousands of people have taken the knee at protests in London today to mark the death of unarmed black man George Floyd who was killed in police custody in Minneapolis.

Demonstrators packed out Parliament Square and Whitehall in Westminster for peaceful protests organised by Black Lives Matter over the weekend.

Marking a minute's silence in memory of Mr Floyd, gathered protestors kneeled and raised one fist in the air opposite the Palace of Westminster, before chanting 'no justice, no peace'.

Hoards of signs were also held aloft by the crowd, emblazoned with messages including ‘The UK isn’t innocent’, ‘George Floyd, say his name!’ and ‘You silence feeds the violence’. 

Mr Floyd died in Minneapolis on May 25 after police officer Derek Chauvin, who had just detained him, knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes - four of which he was unconscious for - as fellow officers stood by. 

There were similar scenes across the country, with silences being held in Manchester's Picadilly Gardens, Cathedral Square in Peterborough, Cambridge and Milton Keynes where crowds were able to socially distance in large spaces.

Thousands of people have taken the knee at protests in London today to mark the death of unarmed black man George Floyd who was killed in police custody in Minneapolis

Demonstrators packed out Parliament Square and Whitehall in Westminster for peaceful protests organised by Black Lives Matter over the weekend

Marking a minute's silence in memory of Mr Floyd, gathered protestors kneeled and raised one fist in the air opposite the Palace of Westminster, before chanting 'no justice, no peace'

Hoards of signs were also held aloft by the crowd, emblazoned with messages including ‘The UK isn’t innocent’, ‘George Floyd, say his name!’ and ‘You silence feeds the violence’

Mr Floyd died in Minneapolis on May 25 after police officer Derek Chauvin, who had just detained him, knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes - four of which he was unconscious for - as fellow officers stood by

It comes as the Metropolitan Police have ordered officers not to take the knee with protestors, after there was split reaction to three officers filmed yesterday kneeling in front of Downing Street shortly before violence broke out.

Dame Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, said today that the police would no longer be kneeling during protests despite understanding the 'sentiment' behind the action.

'We encourage our officers to talk to people' Dame Cressida told LBC, adding that a main function of the police is 'to engage in a positive manner with people.'

'However heartfelt something like that (kneeling) might be, I don't think it is likely to be safe'.

Asked if she 'won't take the knee during protests' even if protesters encouraged her to, Dame Cressida replied: 'I wouldn't, and I have asked my officers not to because our job is to police'.

In other developments following the shocking death of George Floyd: 

During the Trafalgar Square demonstration yesterday, protest leader Dee Ndlovu said: 'I kneel because of the names and the voices that have been lost to the wind.

'I kneel for the ones who are not heard and the ones who do not get a hashtag, the ones who do not get pictures or a social media campaign, the ones who have been forgotten in history and time. I kneel because of them.'

Taking a knee is a peaceful gesture to protest against police brutality which was first carried out by NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick during the national anthem at an American Football game in 2016.

The Government yesterday asked people not to attend the Black Lives Matter protests, with Home Secretary Priti Patel and Health Secretary Matt Hancock saying not to gather in groups of more than six for fear of spreading coronavirus.

Organisers encouraged those attending the protest to bring PPE with them, with almost everyone was seen wearing face masks, and others using gloves and hand sanitiser. Volunteers were also seen making their way through the crowd handing out masks.             

Protesters were also reminded to try and keep a two metre distance from others where possible and to be mindful of the pandemic.

Protests have continued in the United States today, with cyclists dropping their bikes and taking a knee on Constitution Avenue, the Washington Monument standing in the background. 

This is the 12th day of protests with thousands of people descending on the city to peacefully demonstrate in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25. Pictured: Protestors take the knee in Brooklyn, New York City

Registered Nurse Maryam Smith protests with Healthcare workers with Frontline4Change protest alongside members of the public in Manhattan, New York, to speak out against systemic racism and injustice as protests continue to sweep the United States

Protesters kneel during their peaceful march around the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami, Florida, in response to the death of George Floyd

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