Over 10,000 protesters have flocked to Hyde Park today to take part in a London Black Lives Matter march, protesting the death of George Floyd in the US.
Huge crowds gathered in central London today, despite social distancing rules, joining world-wide demonstrations after a video emerged of white police officers kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck.
The 46-year-old black man died as he pleaded “I can’t breathe.”
Ahead of the protest, dozens of police officers on horseback were seen speaking to protestors, and protest organisers were seen handing out gloves and reminding people to socially distance.
Crowds were building hours before the start of the protest, and scores of activists chanted ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘no justice, no peace’ as it got underway.
Protestors wearing masks carried placards reading ‘UK aren’t innocent’, and ‘Please, I can’t breathe.”
Protestors gathered in Peckham over the weekend, and today Star Wars actor John Boyega joined the 15-thousand strong crowd in Hyde Park.
He made an emotional speech to the crowd, and referenced two other black Americans who controversially died in the US, as well as the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence in London in 1993.
“Black lives have always mattered. We have always been important. We have always meant something. We have always succeeded regardless. And now is the time. I ain’t waiting.'”
Police largely kept to the background of the protest whilst helicopters circled above.
This comes as police chief constables across the UK issued a joint statement on the situation, saying they “stand alongside all those across the globe who are appalled and horrified” over Mr Floyd’s murder.
A number of local figures have spoken out about the incident in the US, as well existing violence and inequality here in London, with Greenwich Council releasing a strong statement on Tuesday.
Separately, anti-racism campaign group Stand Up to Racism is urging Britons to ‘take the knee’ on their doorsteps at 6pm tonight for a protest against discrimination which is also backing the Black Lives Matter movement.
In their statement, the police leaders continued: “We are also appalled to see the violence and damage that has happened in so many US cities since then. Our hearts go out to all those affected by these terrible events and hope that peace and order will soon be restored.”
In the US, Tuesday marked the eighth night of the protests, which began in Minneapolis where Mr Floyd died, and quickly spread across the US.
Some protests have included widely reported clashes between police and protesters, including the use of tear gas and rubber bullets.
Protesters have also defied curfews and President Donald Trump has pressed governors to put down violence sparked by Mr Floyd’s death.
In the UK, demonstrators previously protested outside the US Embassy in south London as well as in Trafalgar Square following Mr Floyd’s death.