Anti-racism demo 'in support of Rashford, Sancho and Saka' held at Downing Street

17 July 2021, 17:05

Protesters gathered at Downing Street
Protesters gathered at Downing Street. Picture: Stand Up to Racism/Twitter

By Will Taylor

An anti-racism protest in support of England stars Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka has been held at Downing Street.

Demonstrators chanted "Black Lives Matter" and took the knee outside the Prime Minister's residence in the wake of online abuse the trio suffered after the Three Lions' Euro 2020 defeat.

Italy took the European Championship title on penalties at Wembley on Sunday, with Rashford, Sancho and Saka missing penalties.

They were then targeted with racist abuse online and a mural of Rashford was vandalised in Manchester before being quickly restored.

The Stand Up to Racism campaign said it wanted to "show solidarity" with the players who took the knee to protest against racism.

Read more: 'Don't stoke fire then pretend to be disgusted': Mings blasts Patel over racism response

It said it wanted to highlight what it described as the "hypocrisy" of Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel, who was accused of "stoking the fire" of racism earlier in the week by England defender Tyrone Mings.

Stand Up to Racism co-convenor Weyman Bennett said: "How dare they come out as if they were supporting the players and give hollow words in the wake of the disgusting racist abuse."

Read more: 'Shame on you': Boris Johnson condemns racist abuse aimed at England players

Read more: 'I will not let negativity break me': Bukayo Saka speaks out after Euro 2020 racist abuse

He added of the England players: "These brilliant young men have taken a bold stand against racism, and in doing so on the global stage, despite opposition from their own government, they have helped everyone who wants to challenge racism.

"The outpouring of rage at the racist abuse and heartfelt solidarity for Rashford, Sancho and Saka shows the incredible force we have to take the fight against racism in all its forms forwards."

Read more: 'An outpouring of love': Fans leave messages of support at vandalised Rashford mural

Former Labour shadow home secretary Diane Abbott was among those protesting in Whitehall. Other demonstrations were planned for Manchester, Cambridge and Swansea on Saturday.

Boris Johnson condemned the racist abuse directed at Rashford, Sancho and Saka in strong terms this week, having been accused of not doing enough when England were booed for taking the knee before the Euros.

He said: "To those who have been directing racist abuse at some of the players, I say shame on you.

"I hope you will crawl back under the rock from which you emerged."

He later confirmed that he wants to see online racists banned from football games.

Mings directed his anger at Priti Patel over criticism that Government figures did not do enough during the pre-tournament jeers over England taking the knee.

Ms Patel tweeted after the final: "I am disgusted that @England players who have given so much for our country this summer have been subject to vile racist abuse on social media.

"It has no place in our country and I back the police to hold those responsible accountable."