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Tensions escalate between police and Black Lives Matter protesters outside 10 Downing Street gates

“It is very, very important that we keep control of this moment,” Star Wars actor John Boyega told the crowd earlier.

Protesters face police at the entrance to Downing Street in London during a Black Lives Matter protest rally.
Protesters face police at the entrance to Downing Street in London during a Black Lives Matter protest rally.
Image: PA

Updated Jun 3rd 2020, 6:32 PM

PROTESTERS WHO GATHERED gathered in London for a Black Lives Matter protest in memory of George Floyd, a black man who was killed by US police, have staged a demonstration outside 10 Downing Street’s gates.

Although the demonstration was peaceful, in the past few minutes tensions have arisen between protesters and around a dozen police stationed outside.

As UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave the UK’s latest Covid-19 figures, protesters gathered outside the British PM’s official residence.

Some were also seen “taking a knee” earlier in the day – a symbol of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter protesters – however as protesters knelt at 6pm none of the officers joined them. Several hundred protesters were also at Trafalgar Square and Hyde Park. 

Tensions have now arisen between protesters and police – with reports that protesters are pushing to be let past the gates, and that objects have been thrown at police officers.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said that she received an update from the Metropolitan Police, to whom she expressed “concern at small number of reports of violence”.

I’m sickened at George Floyd’s death. But protests must be peaceful & in accordance with social distancing rules. This virus remains a threat to us all.

When asked what his message to US President Donald Trump was in relation to the protests, Boris Johnson said he was “sickened” by the death of George Floyd.

He said: “We mourn George Floyd and I was appalled and sickened to see what happened to him.

And my message to President Trump, to everybody in the United States from the UK is that I don’t think racism – it’s an opinion I’m sure is shared by the overwhelming majority of people around the world – racism, racist violence has no place in our society.

He said people had the right to protest but “I would urge people to protest peacefully, and in accordance with the rules on social distancing”.

Everybody’s lives matter, black lives matter, but we must fight this virus, as well.

black-lives-matter-protests A Black Lives Matter demonstration in Hyde Park. Source: Dominic Lipinski

Demonstrators had gathered earlier in London’s Hyde Park for a Black Lives Matter protest in memory of George Floyd.

George Floyd died after a white police officer held him down by pressing a knee into his neck for almost 9 minutes in Minneapolis, sparking days of protest across the US.

In order to comply with government advice to remain socially distant, organisers reminded people to stay 2 metres apart from others, and were seen handing out gloves.

A protest in Dublin was held on Monday, and attracted thousands who marched from the GPO to the US embassy and held a minute’s silence – but raised concerns about the public health implications, as in many cases people couldn’t stay 2 metres apart.

black-lives-matter-protests Source: Dominic Lipinski

Star Wars actor John Boyega made an emotional speech at the rally.

The 28-year-old film star told fellow demonstrators he was “speaking to you from my heart”. 

The British actor referenced two other black Americans who controversially died in the US, as well as the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence in London in 1993. 

He said: “We are a physical representation of our support for George Floyd.

“We are a physical representation of our support for Sandra Bland. We are a physical representation of our support for Trayvon Martin. We are a physical representation of our support for Stephen Lawrence.”

Ms Bland died aged 28 while in police custody in Texas following a traffic stop, while Mr Martin was shot and killed, aged 17, by a neighbourhood watch volunteer in Florida, with both deaths sparking protests across the US at the time.

He added:

I’m speaking to you from my heart. Look, I don’t know if I’m going to have a career after this, but fuck that.

black-lives-matter-protests Source: Victoria Jones

“Today is about innocent people who were halfway through their process. We don’t know what George Floyd could have achieved, we don’t know what Sandra Bland could have achieved, but today we’re going to make sure that won’t be an alien thought to our young ones.

I need you to understand how painful this shit is. I need you to understand how painful it is to be reminded every day that your race means nothing and that isn’t the case any more, that was never the case any more.

He urged protesters to remain peaceful as they demonstrated over the death of Floyd.

“It is very, very important that we keep control of this moment. That we make this as peaceful and as organised as possible,” he said.

“Because they want us to mess up, they want us to be disorganised, but not today.” 

- with reporting from Gráinne Ní Aodha

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