Hundreds protest in support of Black Lives Matter in Birmingham

4 June 2020, 17:47

Rachael Kennedy

By Rachael Kennedy

Hundreds of people have gathered in Birmingham's town centre to rally in support of the Black Lives Matter movement as the latest in a string of similar protests around the world.

The protesters on Thursday met in the city's Victoria Square holding placards emblazoned with the name of the movement and "no justice, no peace".

Aston Villa player Tyrone Mings is expected to be among the demonstration, tweeting a day earlier: "Don't be afraid to speak you truth.

Protesters in Birmingham gathered in Victoria Square on Thursday
Protesters in Birmingham gathered in Victoria Square on Thursday. Picture: PA

"Stand for what's right. See you tomorrow."

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The club also tweeted support for the protest itself, saying: "Aston Villa stands against racism.

"We continue our celebration of some of the many influential black players who have pulled on the claret and blue of our club."

Hundreds of people joined the protest in Birmingham
Hundreds of people joined the protest in Birmingham. Picture: PA

Birmingham's protest was held a day after thousands of people in London marched from Hyde Park to parliament for the same cause.

They are just two of many protests that have been taken place around the world in response to the death of an unarmed black man in the US at the hands of a white police officer.

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A now infamous video that has spread rapidly across social media depicts the final moments of George Floyd, who died laying face down on a street in Minneapolis - handcuffed and unarmed - while officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck.

Chauvin stayed put on the 46-year-old's neck for more than eight minutes, despite warning that he couldn't breathe.

The aftermath of Mr Floyd's death has resulted in huge protests across the US, and the wider world, having revived fierce debate about police brutality and racist practices in America's judicial system.

"I can't breathe" is a quote from George Floyd's final moments as he lay underneath Chauvin's knee
"I can't breathe" is a quote from George Floyd's final moments as he lay underneath Chauvin's knee. Picture: PA

West Midlands Police said on Thursday that it "understands that people feel strongly about what has happened and want their voices to be heard," but encouraged protesters to adhere to social distancing rules as concerns about coronavirus remain in place.

"You can still protest while maintaining social distancing," the force added.

Labour councillor John Cotton, cabinet member for social inclusion at Birmingham City Council, commended the city's "long and proud history of standing up to racism and to prejudice," and said this was "why today we stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement."

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Scores of people gathered on Victoria Square in Birmingham
Scores of people gathered on Victoria Square in Birmingham. Picture: PA

The officer involved in My Floyd's death - Derek Chauvin - has since been charged with second-degree murder, while his three colleagues have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter.

Meanwhile, the first of three memorial services for Mr Floyd are due to be held on Thursday in Minneapolis.

He will be buried next Tuesday in Houston, Texas, where he lived most of his life.