George Floyd death: Thousands protest in London

LONDON — Thousands of people marched through London on Wednesday evening over the death of George Floyd in the United States.

The death of Floyd — an unarmed black man who died after being pinned down by a police officer’s knee to the neck for nearly nine minutes — has led to mass protests across the U.S. and beyond, including in Paris on Tuesday. On Wednesday evening it was announced that the charge against the officer, Derek Chauvin, would be increased to second-degree murder.

London's Black Lives Matter demonstration began in Hyde Park before heading south through the city to Victoria Station. At the station, protesters held signs asking for justice for Belly Mujinga, a railway worker who died after being spat at by a man who claimed to have coronavirus. The case was closed with no further action taken last month, despite the Crown Prosecution Service making it a criminal offense to use coronavirus as a weapon or threat.

Some videos posted on social media showed minor scuffles between police and protesters outside Downing Street and Sky News reported that a police officer was punched in the face. But most reports showed a peaceful, if angry demonstration. Star Wars actor John Boyega led a chant of "no justice, no peace," while former shadow cabinet minister Barry Gardiner joined protesters in taking a knee outside parliament.

While the protests were ongoing in the capital, police constables from across the country released a statement saying they "stand alongside" those protesting Floyd's death, and calling for "justice and accountability." More protests are expected around the U.K including in Birmingham, Newcastle and Glasgow.

Earlier Wednesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the killing of Floyd had been "appalling and inexcusable" and that he "perfectly understood people’s right to protest."

When further pressed on the issue by the Scottish National Party's Westminster leader Ian Blackford, Johnson said that "of course black lives matter."

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