Thousands gather in Trafalgar Square and across London for Black Lives Matter demonstration

31 May 2020, 14:17 | Updated: 31 May 2020, 15:27

Thousands of people have packed into central London and marched on the American Embassy in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Crowds packed the famous landmark in solidarity with US protesters, who have been demonstrating against the death of George Floyd for the past five days.

Many American cities have seen mass demonstrations against police brutality, which began after Mr Floyd died after a police officer held a knee to his neck until he stopped breathing in Minneapolis.

The officer in question, Derek Chauvin, has since been fired from the force and was charged with third degree murder four days after Mr Floyd's death.

Those in the Trafalgar Square today chanted "I can't breathe", which Mr Floyd could be heard saying before he fell unconscious.

But the sheer numbers of those in attendance and their close proximity raises concerns that they will not be able to socially distance themselves from one another.

Hundreds have gathered in Trafalgar Square for a Black Lives Matter protest
Hundreds have gathered in Trafalgar Square for a Black Lives Matter protest. Picture: PA
But it didn't appear everyone was socially distancing themselves from others
But it didn't appear everyone was socially distancing themselves from others. Picture: PA
People took a knee as they protested in solidarity with Americans
People took a knee as they protested in solidarity with Americans. Picture: PA

Reverend Sally Hitchiner, associate vicar at St Martin-in-the-Fields church on Trafalgar Square, said she could see hundreds gathered for the protest from her workplace.

The 40-year-old said: "I'm very sympathetic to the issue but also surprised to see the strength of emotion that has gathered people together.

"It's showing there are people in the UK who care passionately about the situation in the US.

"Clearly they're not following lockdown and social distancing, but I think there's a huge amount of passion there and that's overriding their concerns.

"It's an issue that requires passion but at the same time there's a huge amount of risk in what they're doing."

This is the scene outside Vauxhall
This is the scene outside Vauxhall. Picture: LBC News
There was a crush of people as they marched through to Vauxhall
There was a crush of people as they marched through to Vauxhall. Picture: LBC News
The protesters were blocked by police as they went towards the American Embassy
The protesters were blocked by police as they went towards the American Embassy. Picture: LBC News

She said police appeared to be moving the crowd on from the square by early afternoon.

A number of people then marched to the American Embassy in Vauxhall, filling the streets and causing a crush of people.

Police could also be seen blocking off the road which leads to the embassy.

Chants of "say his name: George Floyd" and "black lives matter" are coming from the crowds making their way along roads near the river.

Traffic has been stopped in several places and protesters are receiving applause and horns are being sounded on passing cars.

They gathered in their hundreds
They gathered in their hundreds. Picture: LBC News

Under current government guidelines, people from different households must remain at last 2 metres away from one another to reduce the risk of catching coronavirus.

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police told LBC News: "Police are aware of demonstrators gathering in Trafalgar Square, Westminster this afternoon.

"Officers are on scene & engaging with those in attendance. An appropriate policing plan is in place."

The protest in London is peaceful, with hundreds taking to their knee and raising their fist into the sky.

Many held placards
Many held placards. Picture: PA

In Cardiff, another Black Lives Matter protest has also met, although some of them also did not seem to be socially distant.

Pictures shared online show some of those attending sat, spaced apart, on grass around Cardiff Castle.

But others were photographed in close proximity, and angry motorists beeped their horns at them.

While the UK protests are peaceful, many US cities have descended into riots, and so far a teenage boy and police officer are confirmed to have died.

NYPD SUV's were recorded yesterday driving into crowds, during the city's third night of unrest.

Police vehicles were set ablaze across the country as the country convulsed through another night of unrest after months of coronavirus lockdowns.

The protests have left parts of that city a grid of broken windows, burned-out buildings and ransacked stores.

The unrest has since become a national phenomenon as protesters decry years of deaths at police hands.

More than 1,300 people have been arrested in 16 cities since Thursday, with more than 500 of those happening in Los Angeles on Friday.

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