Black Lives Matter: All the peaceful protests happening in the UK this week

Protesters are being asked to observe social distancing

Helen Coffey
Wednesday 03 June 2020 17:28 BST
People wearing face coverings react as they hold banners in Hyde Park during a "Black Lives Matter" protest following the death of George Floyd who died in police custody in Minneapolis
People wearing face coverings react as they hold banners in Hyde Park during a "Black Lives Matter" protest following the death of George Floyd who died in police custody in Minneapolis (Reuters)

As the world reacts to the wave of protests in the US demanding justice after the death of 46-year-old George Floyd in police custody, a number of peaceful anti-racism demonstrations are taking place across the UK.

These events are to raise awareness of systemic racism and the deaths of other black and minority ethnic people including, most recently, 47-year-old British train guard Belly Mujinga, who died from Covid-19 after a man spat in her face while she was on duty.

The teams organising the protests – which are not affiliated with the official UK arm of Black Lives Matter, but in some cases have support from local anti-racism groups and activists – are cautioning participants to respect social distancing as much as possible.

While current coronavirus lockdown guidelines prohibit gatherings of more than six people, the Metropolitan police have said they are respecting people’s right to peacefully protest.

“We are aware of the planned protests due to take place in London and will be engaging with protesters and asking them to work with us for their safety and those around them,” the Met Police said in a statement. “We stand alongside all those across the globe who are appalled and horrified by the way George Floyd lost his life. Justice and accountability should follow.

“We always work to balance the rights of protestors with those of the wider community and to manage protest in the most proportionate way we can. We absolutely understand the right to lawful protest is a key part of any democracy, and we have an appropriate policing plan in place that will balance the safety of protesters with their desire to protest.”

The statement went on: “We want to remind those seeking to participate that coronavirus remains a deadly disease and urge people to remain socially distanced to prevent its spread and to work with officers at this challenging time.”

Meanwhile, in a joint statement, the National Police Chiefs’ Council, the College of Policing and the Police Superintendents’ Association said: “We know people want to make their voices heard. The right to lawful protest is a key part of any democracy, which UK police uphold and facilitate.

“But coronavirus remains a deadly disease and there are still restrictions in place to prevent its spread, which include not gathering outside in groups of more than six people. So for whatever reason people want to come together, we ask that people continue to work with officers at this challenging time.”

Here’s everything you need to know about the demonstrations.

How can I stay safe and protest responsibly?

Social distancing is being advised, with protesters told to stay 2m away from one another.

“I know that some Londoners may choose to protest today,” tweeted London Mayor Sadiq Khan on 3 June. “If you do, I urge you to do so peacefully, lawfully and safely.

“Covid-19 is still a real threat to our city, so if you protest, please make every effort to stay 2 metres apart from others at all times.”

Protest organisers are advising protesters to wear protective masks and gloves, and to bring food, water and hand sanitiser. Those with any symptoms of Covid-19 are being told to stay at home.

When and where are the protests

While one of the biggest peaceful protests happened in Hyde Park on Wednesday 3 June, there are others happening across the country over the next week. See below for the list so far:

Thursday 4 June

Birmingham: Victoria Square, 4pm.

Portsmouth: Guildhall, 1pm.

Friday 5 June

Reading: Town Centre, 1pm.

Blackpool: Stanley Park, 1pm.

Saturday 6 June

London: Parliament Square, 1pm.

Manchester: Piccadilly Gardens, 1pm.

Leicester: Clock Tower, 1pm.

Peterborough: Town centre, 1pm.

Sheffield: Devonshire Green, 1pm.

Swansea: Castle Gardens, 1.30pm.

Cambridge: Parker’s Piece, 2pm.

Swindon: Regent’s Circus, 1pm.

Ipswich: Town Hall and Corn Exchange, 2pm.

Newcastle: An online event is being organised to give a platform to BAME speakers from 1pm. Go to the Facebook event page to find out more.

John Boyega makes impassioned speech at George Floyd protest in Hyde Park

Sunday 7 June

London: Outside the US Embassy, 2pm.

Bristol: College Green, 1pm.

Coventry: Godiva Square, 1.30pm.

Edinburgh: Holyrood Park, 1pm.

Nottingham: Forest Recreation Ground, 12pm.

Plymouth: Jigsaw Park, 2pm.

Norwich: TBC, 2pm.

Monday 8 June

Cheltenham: Pitville Park, 2pm.

Wednesday 10 June

Hull: Queens Gardens, 1pm.

Saturday 13 June

Brighton: Palace Pier, 1pm.

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