‘Racism is real virus’: Protesters ignore COVID risk as 11 held in London rally against racial violence

Thousands of people gathered in central London on Sunday as the protests in American cities spread to the UK.

The protesters were supporting Americans angry about violence suffered by black people at the hands of police in the US, a feeling galvanised by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis earlier this month.

Mr Floyd died after a police officer put his knee on the unarmed black man’s neck for more than eight minutes despite him warning that he could not breathe.

In London, protesters chanted: “No justice, no peace!” and waved placards saying “How many more?” referring to the list of black Americans who have died after encounters with police. Others shouted: “Get your knees off our necks”.

Demonstrators ignored social distancing rules as they gathered at Trafalgar Square and marched to the US Embassy, where a long line of police surrounded the building.

Eleven arrests were made in total, with five outside the embassy.

In a brief statement, the Metropolitan Police said the offences included possession of an offensive weapon, assault on police, obstructing a public carriageway and breaches of coronavirus legislation.

Some of those arrested were between the ages of 17 and 25 years old and have been taken into custody.

Sky reporter Emma Birchley was at the event, titled Kneel for Floyd, and she said that at exactly 1pm, the protesters dropped to their knees, most wearing masks as directed by the organisers.

Among the protesters was Nina Mahonty, an American of South Asian descent, who has lived in London for six years.

Breaking down as she spoke, Nina said: “I am struggling watching my country burn and there is nothing I can do from here so this was the next best thing.

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