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Thousands take to the streets in Europe for fourth consecutive weekend of anti-racism protests

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People participate in a rally at Trafalgar Square in central London, Saturday, June 20, 2020, organised by the Black Lives Matter movement
People participate in a rally at Trafalgar Square in central London, Saturday, June 20, 2020, organised by the Black Lives Matter movement   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali
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Thousands took to the street for another weekend of protest against racism and police brutality.

Rallies were held in the UK and France on Saturday, with authorities urging people to respect social distancing rules amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In London, thousands flocked to Hyde Park for a Black Lives Matter protest, after campaigners had to call off a demonstration last weekend to avoid clashing with far-right activists.

People sat on the grass and listened to speakers, before setting off for Trafalgar Square.

A smaller group marched from south London, near the US Embassy.

These weekend's crowds in the UK capital were reportedly smaller and more socially distanced than those seen in the first two weeks after George Floyd’s death.

They were also more peaceful.

London police have made almost 230 arrests during protests over the past month, more than half on June 13, when far-right activists clashed with police.

In Glasgow, hundreds attended a socially distanced Say No to Racism rally, while other protesters in Edinburgh, who included Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh, called for the removal of the statue of Henry Dundas, an 18th-century Scottish politician.

Another anti-racism demonstration took place in Manchester.

This week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced he is setting up a commission that will look into racial inequality, but opponents have accused the government of opting for talk rather than action.

Thousands demonstrated against racism in France as well.

Protesters marched through Paris with signs reading "Laissez nous respirer" ("Let us breathe"), George Floyd's plea before he died, but also paid tribute to Lamine Dieng, a 25-year-old Franco-Senegalese who died in a police van after being arrested in 2007.

Last week, it emerged that the French government agreed to pay €145,000 to Dieng's relatives, after 13 years of legal wrangling.

Other demonstrators carried placards reading “Justice For Ibo", as they remembered Ibrahima Bah, a 22-year-old man who died in a motorbike crash in October in Paris, after allegedly escaping a police check.

AP Photo/Rafael Yaghobzadeh
Ramata Dieng, the mother of Lamine Dieng, a 25-year-old Franco-Senegalese who died in a police van after being arrested in 2007, during a protest in Paris. June 20, 2020AP Photo/Rafael Yaghobzadeh

Other protests took place in the French capital, including a demonstration near the US Embassy by the Black African Defense League, and a march linked to recent violence involving Chechens in the French city of Dijon.

The Prefecture de Police had warned that the risk of violence from these there protests was too high.

But France's highest court, the Conseil d'Etat, sided with human rights groups and unions last week and ruled that authorities could not ban demonstrations.

The government, which started to lift lockdown restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic on May 11, is still prohibiting public gatherings of more than 10 people.