Black Lives Matter protest set for Portsmouth Guildhall Square over George Floyd police death
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Demonstrations have swept America and beyond after the death Minneapolis last week. Mr Floyd, 46, was restrained by a police officer who has now been charged with third-degree murder.
Now the Black Lives Matter movement has come to the city, with two separate demonstrations taking place on Wednesday and Thursday.
A Portsmouth-based BLM group has organised a socially-distanced protest at 1pm on Thursday, June 4.
Separately, Stand Up to Racism Portsmouth is running a static 20-person strong protest at 6pm on Wednesday, June 3.
Government lockdown rules ban groups of more than six people from different households gathering in public in an effort to slow the spread of Covid-19.
Hampshire police said they are liaising with organisers and are confident the ‘vast majority of people will behave responsibly’.
Posting on the BLM Facebook event page, Ella Ruby said: ‘Although this is a peaceful event, attendees are encouraging people to keep themselves as non-identifiable as possible.
‘This protest is about police brutality and it would be naive not to prepare for the possibility that altercations might arise. It’s also not a fashion show and I’d like to discourage any white people from attempting to stand out.
‘You should not be attending to be the face of this cause, but to lend yourself to it.’
Solidarity protests are being held across the UK, and the Stand Up to Racism organisers say they are also highlighting ‘policies that have led to massively disproportionate black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) deaths in the Covid-19 pandemic in Britain’.
A statement sent to The News from Portsmouth anti-racism campaigner Simon Magorian said: ‘Stand Up To Racism is calling for all SUTR groups to work with others to organise socially distanced events in every town and city – organised to make sure that the communities that we are fighting to defend are not endangered by the virus.’
He added: ‘We are not expecting this to be large, due to obvious safety concerns, it will of course still be a protest, we will be recording statements on mobiles to share, and taking photographs of people “taking a knee”, and us such this will be largely a media/social media event, as everything has to be predicated by safety concerns.
‘Some may like to take a knee at home or elsewhere.’
Anyone who would like to show their online support for the protest is asked to use the #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd hashtag.
A Hampshire police spokesman said: ‘The rights to protest are well established in this country, but these are exceptional times and personal responsibility is now key.
‘Like other forces, we have been engaging with the organisers of these protests and they are putting a strong emphasis on social distancing, wearing masks and practising good hygiene.
‘We will continue to use common sense and discretion to determine what’s reasonable, with officers engaging, explaining and encouraging the government restrictions around coronavirus.
‘We are confident that the vast majority of people will behave responsibly at these protests to help prevent the spread of the virus and save lives.’