As it happenedended1591481407

UK George Floyd protests: Police and demonstrators clash outside Downing Street as thousands across UK join Black Lives Matter march

Follow developments in the protests as they happened

Andy Gregory,Peter Stubley
Saturday 06 June 2020 23:08 BST
Protestors in London show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement

Thousands of people gathered in UK cities to stand against racism and demand change after the death of George Floyd in US police custody.

Demonstrators filled London‘s Parliament Square holding placards reading “black lives matter“, “white silence is violence” and “the UK is not innocent”, while thousands also turned out across Cardiff, Bristol, Manchester, Sheffield, Leicester, Bath and Birmingham.

Government ministers urged people not to gather in large groups to protest, with police warning that protests could be unlawful under coronavirus lockdown rules. The demonstrations were largely peaceful apart from a clash between protesters and police near Downing Street on Saturday evening which saw a police officer knocked from a horse and graffiti daubed on the Cenotaph in Whitehall.

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Hello, and welcome to The Independent's live coverage of today's anti-racism protests in the UK.

Andy Gregory6 June 2020 14:08

Government 'understands why people upset' but urges against protests

After Boris Johnson used the words "everybody's life matters" to caution against physical protests in the face of Covid-19, health secretary Matt Hancock insisted he understood people's anger as he echoed the plea to avoid demonstrations.

"Like so many I am appalled by the death of George Floyd and I understand why people are deeply upset but we are still facing a health crisis and coronavirus remains a real threat, Mr Hancock said.

"The reason that it is vital that people stick to the rules this weekend is to protect themselves and their family from this horrific disease.

"So please, for the safety of your loved ones, do not attend large gatherings including demonstrations of more than six people."

Home Secretary Priti Patel tweeted: "Please for the safety of all of us, do not attend large gatherings - including protests - of more than six people this weekend. 

"As Matt Hancock said, coronavirus remains a real threat and people must protect themselves and their families from this horrific disease."

Andy Gregory6 June 2020 14:14

Colin Drury has more on the actions planned this weekend. Some protests are planned for tomorrow, including one outside the US embassy.

Andy Gregory6 June 2020 14:18

Our correspondent Gemma Fox has these images from the London protests.

Andy Gregory6 June 2020 14:27

Thousands attend digital protest in Newcastle

Newcastle MP Chi Onwura opened a protest streamed live on Facebook, viewed by thousands of people and organised by Stand Up to Racism, who have helped coordinated many of the events in recent days.

Andy Gregory6 June 2020 14:33

Protests unlawful under coronavirus legislation, Met Police warns

Scotland Yard's Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor has said this morning that protests should not take place under current coronavirus restrictions.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The health protection regulations are really clear that it is unlawful."

Andy Gregory6 June 2020 14:40

London crowds chant 'Boris is a racist'

Our correspondent Gemma Fox reports that the protests are peaceful, and only getting busier, with police currently keeping their distance. Meanwhile, Parliament Square is ringing out with chants of "Boris is a racist".

The prime minister has previously used racist slurs, also writing that seeing a "bunch of black kids" makes alarm bells go off in his head.

He also denies stoking anti-migrant fears about Turkey and the Syrian refugee crisis during the Brexit referendum, for which there is clear evidence to the contrary.

Andy Gregory6 June 2020 14:53

Police clamp down on protests in Northern Ireland

Police in Northern Ireland are conducting checks on roads and at transport hubs, warning anyone travelling to take part in a demonstration can expect to be stopped, advised to return home and could face a fine or court appearance.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd issued a strong appeal to the public not to take part in protests this weekend, adding any gathering of more than six people is against coronavirus regulations, as is travelling for a protest.

The Assistant Chief Constable also warned that if advice not to assemble is ignored, police may move to enforcement.

On Friday night, organisers of Black Lives Matter demonstrations in Belfast and Londonderry indicated they planned to proceed with social distancing measures in place.

However, planned protests in Newry, Portadown and Omagh have been cancelled.

The Northern Ireland Assembly will show its support for the Black Lives Matter movement by lighting parliament buildings yellow, Stormont Speaker Alex Maskey has said.

Andy Gregory6 June 2020 14:56

'It feels like we're at the bottom of the pile'

The Independent's Gemma Fox reports that while the protests are very peaceful, people are also feeling great anger, with chants of "I can’t breathe", "no justice no peace", and "Boris Johnson is a racist". Two helicopters are surveilling the demonstrators, but law enforcement are keeping their distance.

Andy Gregory6 June 2020 15:09

Protesters in London are marching towards the Home Office - which in recent years has overseen the UK's "hostile environment" policies.

Residents have been banging on pots and pans out of their windows on properties along Vauxhall Bridge Road in central London.

Cars stopped along the road and beeped in time with chants of "black lives matter".

Andy Gregory6 June 2020 15:19

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