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Thousands of people joined a demonstration in London against the death of African-American George Floyd in police custody nine days ago.
This comes as British police chiefs said they stood by everyone “dismayed and horrified” by his death.
In a joint statement, they said that the right to demonstrate legally was “a key element of any democracy”.
But they stressed that restrictions on coronaviruses, including not gathering in groups of more than six, remained.
Protests began in the United States after a video showing Mr. Floyd, 46, arrested on May 25 in Minneapolis, and a white policeman continuing to kneel on his neck even after pleading that he could not breathe.
Officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with second degree murder, according to court documents.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Wednesday that the death of Floyd was “appalling” and “inexcusable”, but has been criticized for not commenting on the murder before.
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said the British government had “shut down in the hope that no one would notice.”
Meanwhile, Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer called on the Prime Minister to convey to President Donald Trump “the horror of the United Kingdom in responding to events.”
Speaking later, when asked about this during Wednesday’s coronavirus briefing, Johnson said: “My message to President Trump, to all of the United States in the United Kingdom, is that … racism , racist violence has no place in our society. “
He said that people had the right to demonstrate, but “I urge people to demonstrate peacefully and in accordance with the rules on social separation.”
Protesters gathered at Hyde Park in London for the demonstration organized by the campaign group Black Lives Matter, before marching south through the city.
This followed days of protests in American cities, including Washington DC, Los Angeles, Houston and Seattle, after the Floyd case rekindled deep anger over the police murders of black Americans and the racism.
Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets – not only to express their outrage at Mr. Floyd’s treatment – but to more broadly condemn police brutality against black Americans.
In the UK, protesters marched to Victoria station, where they hung a sign saying “Justice for Belly Mujinga” – referring to a deceased railway worker with Covid-19. At first it was thought that it may have been because she was spit by a man claiming to have a coronavirus. However, the police concluded that his death was not related to the attack.
The protesters then went to Westminster, where they blocked the roads outside the Houses of Parliament.
A number of videos shared on social media showed protesters and police clashing outside Downing Street.
Images showed objects, including signs and a traffic cone, thrown at the police, while a protester was thrown to the ground and detained by officers.
At the stage
By BBC reporter Chi Chi Izundu
There was anger in the crowd while they were sitting, listening to the speeches, taking the knee.
Yet another generation painted posters and took to the streets to march against racism.
As they began to fill Hyde Park, the organizers shouted to them to extend their arms to maintain the two-meter social distance rule. But so many people gathered, it became impossible.
Friends and families together, different ages, different races.
At the beginning, the organizers told me that they were expecting around 1,000 people. But the demonstrators came out in the thousands.
They chanted “Black Lives Matter”, they shouted “say his name”. They said that “the UK is no different” when it comes to racism. They want change.
Earlier, Star Wars actor John Boyega made a touching speech to other protesters in which he said that the crowd was “a physical representation of our support” for Mr. Floyd and two others Black Americans died controversially in the United States and Stephen Lawrence who was killed in a racist attack in London in 1993.
He said he spoke from his heart and did not know if he would still have a career after speaking.
“Today these are 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 will make sure that this does not happen to be a foreign thought for our young people, “he said.
“I need you to understand how painful it is to remember every day that your run means nothing.”
Activist taking part in the demonstration, Brogan Baptiste, told the BBC: “It is imperative that all of us, whether you are black, white, participate in it because we need change and we need it now.”
Filippa, a 20-year-old student who also joined the protest, said, “I know I’m in good health. So it seemed more important to me than staying inside when I had the chance.”
Demonstrations also took place in other cities in the UK, including Belfast and Northampton.
“Terrified and horrified”
In their joint statement, the National Council of Chiefs of Police said, “We stand with everyone around the world who are dismayed and horrified by the way George Floyd lost his life. Justice and responsibility should follow. “
They said British officers had been “trained to use force proportionally, legally and only when absolutely necessary”.
However, they added, “We are constantly striving to learn and improve. We will fight prejudice, racism or discrimination wherever we find it.”
They said British police “defend and facilitate” the right to demonstrate legally and “we know people want their voices heard”.
But in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, they stressed that restrictions on rallies were still in place and urged people to “continue working with the officers during this difficult time”.
This latest protest follows another Sunday, which saw thousands of people gather in Trafalgar Square in central London.