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HUNDREDS of anti-racists gathered in Trafalgar Square today to protest against the death of a black man restrained by police in the United States.
The Black Lives Matter demonstration was organised after George Floyd was killed last week in Minneapolis by white police officers, who held him down while one pressed his knee into his neck as he cried: “I can’t breathe.”
Chants of “say his name: George Floyd” and “black lives matter” came from the crowds.
Protesters also gathered outside the US embassy in London on Saturday in a demonstration organised by Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) to show support for the protests and uprising in US cities.
And a linked Zoom meeting took place online this evening, broadcast on SUTR’s Facebook page.
Speakers included Labour MPs Diane Abbott, Claudia Webbe and Bell Ribeiro-Addy, SUTR co-convenor Weyman Bennett, a victim of police brutality in Manchester and US activists.
Mr Floyd is the latest victim of the institutionally racist police in the US, where police violence is a leading cause of death for young men, according to a study by Rutgers University in 2019.
Black men and boys face a one in 1,000 chance that the cause of their death will be the police and are 2.5 times more likely to die than white people after police contact.
SUTR national officer Brian Richardson said: “In 2014 Eric Garner’s dying words were ‘I can’t breathe’ as New York Police officers choked him to death. It is an outrage that such atrocities are still happening six years later.
“George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis is yet more evidence that black lives are considered cheap and expendable.”
Mr Richardson said that institutional racism in Britain also exists and has been exposed by the coronavirus crisis.
He said: “What is true in the US is also true here as we see disproportionate numbers of people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities being exposed and dying of Covid-19.
“That is why we are standing in solidarity with our sisters and brothers and demanding that Black Lives Matter.” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said yesterday that the video footage of Mr Floyd’s death was “very distressing,” but refused to comment on President Donald Trump’s threat on Twitter that “looting leads to shooting.”
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