Judges, parliamentarians, civil servants and those in the arts and sport are now increasingly questioning who holds real power in Britain, and whether black and Asian people are being excluded (Photo: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images).
Eastern Eye Staff
THOUSANDS of people ignored coronavirus warnings to join anti-racism protests in the UK on Saturday (6).
“No justice, no peace, no racist police,” they chanted, while some placards read: “There is a virus greater than Covid-19 and it’s called racism”.
The demonstrations held in solidarity with US protests in the wake of the custodial killing of African-American George Floyd, were held in London’s Parliament Square as well as across other cities such as Manchester, Newcastle, Leicester, Sheffield and Cardiff.
The death of Floyd has sparked protests across the US and in other countries around the world. The 46-year-old man died after white police officer Derek Chauvin pinned him to the ground and knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes during an arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25.
The video went viral and led to Chauvin being charged with second-degree murder, while other officers present at the time also facing charges.
During a minute’s silence, protesters went down on one knee while holding their fists in the air before chanting Floyd’s name.
Earlier, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Health Secretary Matt Hancock had urged people to avoid large gatherings in view of the pandemic.
Said Patel: “I completely understand people’s desire to express their views and have the right to protest but the fact of the matter is we are in a health pandemic across the UK, coronavirus is a deadly virus and I would say to those who want to protest, please don’t.
“We must put public health first”.
She also asked the organisers to discuss with the police on ways to make the protests safer.
Scotland Yard chief Cressida Dick also urged protesters to find a way of expressing themselves which did not involve mass gatherings, which remain unlawful under the current lockdown measures in place to control the spread of Covid-19.
“Now I appreciate that we have a very, very long history of people expressing themselves by assembling and waving placards and being in central London, and all those things are very dear to our history,” the Metropolitan Police Commissioner said.
“But coming together in a gathering is not only unlawful but also perhaps more importantly, in a sense, it is putting yourself and your family at unnecessary risk and other people around you, as we all know it is a deadly virus and it can get spread in crowds.”
Demonstrations also took place in London earlier this week and were marred by some scuffles between protesters and police outside Downing Street.