Thousands join second Black Lives Matter protest in Leeds

Thousands of protesters joined a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Leeds today.

By Abbey Maclure
Sunday, 21st June 2020, 6:10 pm

The peaceful rally, organised by Black Lives Matter Leeds, was the second demonstration to be held in the city following a joint protest with Black Voices Matter at Millennium Square last weekend.

Protesters flooded to Woodhouse Moor, Hyde Park, from 1.30pm where a staggered entry system and social distancing measures were in place.

Organisers urged protesters to maintain a two metre distance as a line-up of speakers and poets took to the stage.

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Thousands of protesters attended a Black Lives Matter demonstration at Hyde Park, Leeds (Photo: James Hardisty)

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Thousands of people across the UK have turned out for similar anti-racism protests in major cities.

Protests began in the US after a video emerged of a black man, George Floyd, being arrested on May 25 in Minneapolis, USA.

Phone footage showed the 46-year-old gasping that he could not breathe during the arrest by four officers.

More than 100 volunteers were overseeing the demonstration, handing out masks andhand sanitiser (Photo: James Hardisty)

They have since been charged over the death, which has sparked weeks of protests across the world.

Bishop Tony Parry, pastor of the New Testament Church of God on Easterly Road, was one of the first speakers to the Hyde Park stage.

He opened the demonstration in prayer before speaking on his experiences of racism in Leeds.

Speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post before the demonstration, Bishop Parry said: "I’m here in support of what’s going on, hopefully trying to encourage people to think about what they can do to bring about change.

"The issues being raised today are not new issues. They are issues that have been around for many, many decades.

"But change can’t come unless we can do that together, so I’m here to encourage that.”

More than 100 volunteers were overseeing the demonstration, handing out masks and hand sanitiser and directing protesters to marked-out areas of the park.

There were safe spaces, first aid and sign language interpretation available at the event.

Yvonne Abogaye, an events planner from Bradford, was volunteering at the demonstration and had helped to organise social distancing measures.

The 31-year-old said: “We’ve put so much effort into making sure everything is following the government guidelines and everyone is socially distanced.

“There’s been so much emphasis on making sure we have enough masks and hand sanitisers and just organising an event that is the safest it can be given the circumstances.

“It’s beautiful. When you watch it in the media you think everyone is against the whole thing.

"But it’s so nice to look out and just see a sea of different coloured faces to support something that is so important right now.

“I think it’s just going to get better. And it will be really good to see what happens after this - how people actually rally behind the movement and put in steps to do something following the rally.”

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