Met Chief Cressida Dick says planned anti-racism protests should not go ahead

5 June 2020, 22:06

Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick has called for thousands of protesters planning anti-racism demonstrations in London to stay at home.

Speaking on LBC this morning, Dame Cressida said: "Feelings have been running incredibly high, a huge amount of conversations and dialogue and anger.

"I would ask people to express that in any other way than gathering on the streets.

READ MORE: Follow all the latest from the protests LIVE here

“If they do gather on the streets then my officers will of course seek to uphold the law, but they will make a case by case decision on what is presented in front of them.”

Meanwhile London Mayor Sadiq Khan said people should protest "peacefully, lawfully & safely" adding "we must protect each other from COVID19."

Protests in support of Black Lives Matter are to be held across the UK this weekend, in solidarity with recent anti-racism demonstrations in the US.

The events are in response to the death of the African American George Floyd, who was killed when a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes despite Mr Floyd's pleas.

Protests broke out in Minneapolis, Minnesota, following the 46-year-old's death, after footage was released showing the tragic incident.

Black Lives Matter protests are expected across the UK this weekend
Black Lives Matter protests are expected across the UK this weekend. Picture: PA

George Floyd's final words, "I can't breathe" have now become a symbol of the movement across the world.

On Wednesday, similar demonstrations took place in London, where tensions occasionally rose, followed by peaceful protests in Birmingham on Thursday.

More marches and protests are expected up and down the country this weekend.

However, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has urged the public to avoid them as coronavirus "remains a real threat" and lockdown measures remain in place.

Why are Brits protesting?

UK action began last weekend as sympathisers knelt in symbolic solidarity with George Floyd and other black victims of police brutality.

While echoing US grievances, British activists have also pointed to hate crimes in the UK.

Campaigners have wielded placards stating “The UK is not innocent,” alongside the names and faces of victims of racial violence in the country.

In a recent incident, Belly Mujinga – a Black railway worker – died with Covid-19 having been spat at by a man claiming to have the virus.

British Transport Police said there was no evidence to substantiate criminal offence.

Peaceful protests have already taken place in the UK in the past week
Peaceful protests have already taken place in the UK in the past week. Picture: PA

London and the South

On Saturday 6 June, protesters will meet at 1pm in Parliament Square, followed by another demonstration on Sunday 7 June, which will begin at 2pm outside the US Embassy.

An event is planned outside Ipswich Town Hall at 2pm on Saturday, while people are also expected to gather at nearby Norwich Haymarket at 2pm on Sunday, as well as Castle Park in Colchester at 1pm on Sunday.

A peaceful, socially distanced Black Lives Matter demonstration is also being held in Southend at 3pm on Saturday. If too many people show up for social distancing to be maintained in the area they will be turned away.

In the South West, roughly 4,000 people are expected to take part in a march from Bristol's College Green at 2pm. They will walk through the city to Castle Park on Sunday, Avon and Somerset police said. The organisers say it is being carefully planned, using risk assessments, with coronavirus in mind.

The Midlands

A handful of events will be taking place across the Midlands this weekend, following the protests in Birmingham on Thursday.

On Saturday, a demonstration will take place at Leicester's Clock Tower at 1pm.

The following day, a rally will be held at Nottingham's Forest Recreation Ground - which was originally planned for the Old Market Square - at 12pm. It has been organised independently of Black Lives Matter UK, by Nottingham Activists.

Then, at 1pm, there will be another event at Godiva in Coventry, followed by one at Derby Council House at 2pm.

The North

Marches and protests are expected throughout the North of England this weekend.

Two are planned for Manchester: the first will take place on Saturday at 1pm in Piccadilly Gardens; the second will be held on Sunday at St Peter's Square at 2pm.

The planned event for Newcastle has been moved online but will take place at 1pm on Saturday, while at the same time protesters will gather on Devonshire Green in Sheffield.

People have been urged to avoid demonstrations because of the coronavirus pandemic
People have been urged to avoid demonstrations because of the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: PA

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon urged people to be safe this weekend, warning people that demonstrations "pose a real risk to health and life."

However, between midday and 3pm on Sunday, a Glasgow Black Lives Matter protest will be taking place at George Square, followed by a similar socially distanced event in the capital, Edinburgh, at Princes Street Gardens at 1pm.

Protests are also planned across Wales, with events expected in Cardiff, Swansea and Bangor.

In Northern Ireland, demonstrations are planned for Belfast and Londonderry on Saturday, while protests in Newry, Portadown and Omagh have all been cancelled.

There will also be an event at The Spire in Dublin, Republic of Ireland, at 1pm.

List of UK protests this weekend

Saturday, 6 June

· London - Parliament Sqaure, 1pm
· Manchester - Piccadilly Gardens, 1pm
· Newcastle Upon Tyne - Moved online, 1pm
· Leicester - Clock Tower, 1pm
· Sheffield - Devonshire Green, 1pm
· Ipswich - Town Hall, 2pm

Sunday 7 June

· London - US Embassy, 2pm
· Nottingham - Forest Recreation Ground (changed from Old Market Square), 12pm (organised independently of Black Lives Matter UK - Nottingham Activists)
· Manchester - St. Peter’s Square, 2pm
· Edinburgh - Princes Street Gardens, 1pm
· Glasgow - George Square, 2pm

· Bristol - College Green, 2pm
· Norwich - Haymarket, 2pm
· Coventry - Godiva, 1pm
· Derby - Derby Council House, 2pm
· Colchester - Castle Park, 1pm