Anti-racist protests will continue this weekend after taking place across the UK over the weekend, in solidarity with US campaigners for Black Lives Matter.
Protests broke out in Minnesota after George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died in police custody on May 25, having been knelt on at the neck by a police officer for almost nine minutes.
Footage of the incident – that has since gone viral – shows the unarmed Mr Floyd gasping and pleading “I can’t breathe”, after police apprehended him for the alleged use of a counterfeit $20 bill.
Following the protest last week and over the weekend featuring marches, chants, speeches, mass lie-downs and spoken word. Here you will find details of events.
Why are Brits protesting?
UK action began in early June, as sympathisers knelt in symbolic solidarity with George Floyd and other sufferers of police brutality.
As well as echoing US grievances, British activists point to hate crimes in the UK. Campaigners wield placards stating “The UK is not innocent,” alongside names and faces of victims of racial violence in the country.
In a recent incident, Belly Mujinga – a Black railway worker – died from coronavirus having been spat at by a man claiming to have the virus. British Transport Police said there was no evidence to substantiate criminal offence.
UK protest dates and locations
Most of the events have been organised by different groups and individuals, not always involving the city’s central Black Lives Matter group.
There were protests planned in Central London for this Saturday, 13 June – however, London Black Lives Matter has advised protestors to stay at home due to the threat of violence.
Local protests will also continue to go ahead over the weekend. For a full list, check out the ‘protest posters’ highlight on the LDNBLM Instagram page.
Here are the others planned:
Reading – Town Hall, 12pm
Kings Lynn – Town Hall, 2pm
Hemel Hempstead – Town Centre, 2.30pm
To find events in your local area, try searching “BLM [AREA]” or “Black Lives Matter [AREA]” on Twitter.
What about lockdown?
It should be noted that lockdown restrictions remain in place, with mass gatherings forbidden.
Protest organisers have asked participants to wear protective gear and observe social distancing, and many of the campaigners have successfully maintained distance.
Nevertheless, many marches have seen large crowds in close proximity, and dozens have been arrested, some on lockdown breaches.
The UK Black Lives Matter Twitter account has said it is not affiliated with the protests, and is “currently discussing the implications of calling a mass march in the middle of a pandemic that is killing us the most”.
Speaking to the Standard, the protest’s London organisers said “It’s a very difficult situation, where black people are disproportionately dying of Covid-19, but black people are also disproportionately dying in the police and prisons system. People should not be made to choose between one or the other.”
Support can also be shown without in-person protesting, with options to donate to either victims or protesters.
For those taking to the streets, remaining peaceful, observing social distancing, and staying as local as possible are lawful limitations to action.
Are the protests peaceful?
So far, UK protests have been predominantly peaceful, however 13 arrests were made at the London protests on Wednesday, and 41 protesters were arrested over the weekend, after scuffles with the police broke out. Event posters have stressed that violent escalation will not be condoned by organisers.
Some outbreaks of violence between police and protestors have occurred and are documented on social media. On Sunday, police officers were filmed in Whitehall fleeing after a scuffle with protestors, while protestors pelted them with objects.
The situation in the US has grown increasingly anarchic and fragile. Riot police have made thousands of arrest, deployed teargas and rubber bullets – including on peaceful protesters outside the White House – and forcibly removed journalists from the scene.
The whereabouts of many US protesters is unknown, with missing person groups circulating on Twitter.
President Trump has threatened to use military force to “solve the problem,” should governors fail to put an end to the movement.
“If a city or state refuses to take the actions necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them,” he announced last Monday.
Information for protesters
Organisers are circulating information and advice as follows:
· Remain peaceful
· Bring protective masks and gloves, and if possible wet-wipes or anti-bacterial gel
· Observe two-metre social distancing guidelines
· Pack food and water
· Bring identification and emergency contact information
· Wear comfortable shoes
· Take sun-protection
· In case of arrest, carry essential medicines (e.g. inhalers) on your person
· Women on periods are advised to wear pads instead of tampons in case toilet access is restricted by events or arrest