Five people have been arrested after thousands of activists marched to the US Embassy in London amid protests against the death of George Floyd.
Mr Floyd, 46, died in Minneapolis after white police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes during an arrest. The father-of-two, who was unarmed, repeatedly told the officer he could not breathe and died around an hour later.
Today Black Lives Matter protesters headed to Trafalgar Square and Downing Street before thousands made their way to the US Embassy in Battersea. The crowd could be heard chanting ‘say his name: George Floyd ‘I can’t breathe’ as they walked by the River Thames.
Traffic was forced to a stop in several places throughout the capital, with many bystanders and vehicles applauding the demonstrators and tooting their horns as they passed.
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A spokesperson for the Met Police said five arrests had been made during the gathering outside the US Embassy, three of which were for breaches of ‘Covid-19 legislation’. Two of the arrests for assaults on police officers.
Those arrested were aged between 17-25 years and were taken into police custody, they said.
More demonstrations are expected to take place across the UK in the coming week, despite current lockdown restrictions remaining in place. Earlier today London Mayor Sadiq Khan urged people to continue staying at home.
He later added amid the protests: ‘The death of George Floyd has rightly ignited fury and anguish not just in the USA but around the world. No country, city, police force or institution can be complacent about racism and the impact this has.
‘Any accusations of excessive force used by police in London are taken extremely seriously by the Met Police and myself. The Met Police understand that community trust and engagement has to be continually and consistently earned and worked on together.’
Protests first erupted in Minnesota this week after a video of Chauvin kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck before his death went viral online. Since then, more than 1,600 people have been arrested for demonstrating across 22 cities in the US.
Many areas have now begun imposing curfews on residents after shops were looted, police cars and government buildings set on fire and monuments vandalised. Officers in riot gear have been blasting activists with rubber pullets and tear gas, and were even filmed using their cars in a bid to disperse crowds.
US President Donald Trump has been heavily criticised for his response to the protests, in which he tweeted: ‘When the looting starts, the shooting starts.’
He later attempted to clarify his words by further writing: ‘Looting leads to shooting, and that’s why a man was shot and killed in Minneapolis on Wednesday night – or look at what just happened in Louisville with seven people shot. I don’t want this to happen, and that’s what the expression put out last night means.’
Chauvin, who has since been found to have 18 prior complaints filed against him, has been charged with murder and will appear in court on Monday.
He and three other officers involved in Mr Floyd’s death have also been sacked by the Minneapolis Police Department. One of the other officers also had six complaints filed against him, one of which is still ongoing, CNN reports.
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