Protesters gather for third week of Black Lives Matter demonstrations

20 June 2020, 16:51

By Maddie Goodfellow

Demonstrators have gathered for another weekend of Black Lives Matter protests in London amid a heavy police presence.

Scores of protesters assembled at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park, which took on a picnic atmosphere on Saturday, with groups sitting on the grass and various platforms set up.

A total of 14 police vans surrounded the scene, with Scotland Yard earlier warning previous protests have been marred by a “small minority intent on violence” after more than 100 officers were assaulted in recent weeks.

Separately, another group was filmed chanting “no justice, no peace” as people marched from Vauxhall en route to Parliament Square.

Thousands have taken to the streets in anti-racism protests across the UK, sparked by the death of African-American George Floyd in police custody in the US last month.

Separately, anti-racism protesters gathered in Glasgow City Centre on Saturday despite being warned to stay away by police.

The city’s George Square has been the scene of clashes in recent weeks, with far-right groups organising counter-protests to “protect statues”.

Peaceful demonstrations also took place in Manchester, Edinburgh and Newcastle.

At the London demonstration, Black Lives Matter organiser Imarn Ayton called for the removal of Munira Mirza as head of Boris Johnson's new race inequality commission.

Ms Mirza is the head of the new government commission on racial inequalities, set up by the Head of the Number 10 Policy Unit.

She is coming under fire from "progressive anti-racists" because in the past she criticised Labour MP David Lammy's report on the justice system and rejects the idea of structural racism.

The organisation that represents rank-and-file police officers in England and Wales has called on the Home Secretary to ban all protests while the threat of Covid-19 remains.

Police Federation chairman John Apter said Priti Patel must be “unequivocal” in stating that large gatherings are not allowed.

But Downing Street said any ban is an “operational matter” for senior officers to apply to the Home Secretary for

George Floyd’s death in the US has triggered protests around the world, including across the UK (Aaron Chown/PA)

A total of 10 people have now been charged with offences in connection with the BLM protests and far-right counter demonstrations in London over the past three weekends, Scotland Yard said.

The Met has released images of a further 35 suspects they want to speak to in connection with violence at the protests, with police pelted with missiles, smoke grenades, glass bottles and flares.

Recent events have been triggered by the death of Mr Floyd, who died after a white police officer held him down by pressing his knee into his neck for almost nine minutes in Minneapolis on May 25.

Metropolitan Police Commander Alex Murray said: “Whilst the vast majority of people who have attended demonstrations over the past few weeks were not violent, there have a small minority intent on violence against our officers and others, and this is completely unacceptable and we are working hard to bring offenders to justice.

“Officers will be making arrests if there is violence.

“We would encourage those planning to attend to use your influence and spread the message that criminal activity and violence will undermine the messages you are wanting people to hear and must be avoided.

“We have a post-investigation team who will gather all the available evidence and bring those identified to justice.”