Thousands more take to streets of Britain for weekend of Black Lives Matter protests

7 June 2020, 20:03

By Kate Buck

Thousands of people have spent their weekend marching on the streets in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Worldwide protests have been sparked by the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes.

The movement has seen huge support in the UK, and cities and towns across the country have held their own protests and marches in solidarity with those in the US, and urging for their own government to bring change.

The Metropolitan Police warned drivers of disruption on Nine Elms Lane, where the American Embassy is situated, while video footage showed protesters flooding the roads outside the embassy.

Free masks, gloves and hand gel were being given out to the thousands of people, with some wearing t-shirts reading "I can't breathe".

Protesters pictured against a line of police officers
Protesters pictured against a line of police officers. Picture: PA
The statue of Winston Churchill was defaced in Parliament Square
The statue of Winston Churchill was defaced in Parliament Square. Picture: PA
Demonstrators seen outside the gates of Downing Street
Demonstrators seen outside the gates of Downing Street. Picture: PA

Another protester had written "get your knee off our necks" in luminous ink on the back of his jacket, echoing the words black civil rights leader Rev Al Sharpton who spoke at Mr Floyd's memorial service earlier this week.

South London painter and decorator Christopher Green, dressed as comic book hero Black Panther, urged his fellow demonstrators to film any acts of brutality they see.

Holding a Black Lives Matter sign, the 53-year-old said: "I am here to support all the people in America and all those who are being oppressed.

"The most important thing that people have got to do is take out their video phone and document any counter-action with police because without this simple thing with George Floyd, we would probably never have known what happened."

Manchester also saw thousands gather
Manchester also saw thousands gather. Picture: PA
Thousands have taken to London's streets this weekend
Thousands have taken to London's streets this weekend. Picture: PA

Elsewhere, hundreds of people crowded into Manchester's St Peter's Square, kneeling in silence as a mark of respect for Mr Floyd.

On Sunday, the M6 was also temporarily closed at Junction 3 when protesters marched onto the road.

A witness told the Mirror: "said: “I was going 70mph then they just walked out into the road in front of me.

"They put traffic cones down and then sat down. I’d say there are 100 here. They came on at junction 3 of the M6 and now there’s a rolling roadblock to junction 2.

“The traffic has been held both sides. The police helicopter is up and there is a police dogs team here as well. The group were chanting ‘Black Lives Matter’ over and over again.."

But while the majority of the protests were overwhelming peaceful, some of the days turned chaotic.

A female mounted police officer was hospitalised was thrown from her horse after protesters threw objects at it, causing the horse to bolt.

Footage shared on social media showed her hitting a traffic light before falling to the ground.

She reportedly suffered a broken collar bone, broken ribs and a collapsed lung, and was rushed to hospital for surgery.

The horse was unhurt, and ran back to the nearby stables.

An investigation has been launched into the incident.

A mounted police officer was badly hurt after being thrown from her horse
A mounted police officer was badly hurt after being thrown from her horse. Picture: PA

In Bristol, a police investigation has also been launched after a statue of Edward Colston, a 17th century slave trader, was toppled by protesters in the city centre.

It was then dragged and thrown into Bristol Harbour.

The bronze memorial has been the subject of an 11,000-strong petition to have it removed.

Thousands marched through the city centre after a crowd of at least 5,000 packed into the College Green area to hear from speakers and hold an eight-minute silence.

Many activists wore masks and gloves, but the majority were unable to adhere to the two-metre social distancing guidance and were pressed against one another in the city's narrow streets.

Politicians soon took to social media to condemn the protesters actions, and

Former Chancellor Sajid Javid said: "I grew up in Bristol. I detest how Edward Colston profited from the slave trade.

"But, THIS IS NOT OK.

"If Bristolians wants to remove a monument it should be done democratically - not by criminal damage."

Home Secretary Priti Patel hsaid the toppling of the statue of Edward Colston was "utterly disgraceful".

A statue of a 17th century slave trader was thrown into Bristol Harbour
A statue of a 17th century slave trader was thrown into Bristol Harbour. Picture: PA
The action has proved to be controversial
The action has proved to be controversial. Picture: PA

She said: "I think that is utterly disgraceful and that speaks to the acts of public disorder that actually have now become a distraction from the cause in which people are actually protesting about and trying to empathise and sympathise with.

"That is completely an unacceptable act and that speaks to the vandalism - again as we saw yesterday in London - but sheer vandalism and disorder completely is unacceptable.

"It's right actually the police follow up on that and make sure that justice is undertaken with those individuals who are responsible for such disorderly and lawless behaviour."

Protesters marched to Parliament Square, where graffiti was scrawled on the statue of former prime minister Sir Winston Churchill.

Spray paint was used so the name plate read Churchill "is a racist", while someone climbed onto the podium and strapped a Black Lives Matter sign to the statue's belly.