Demonstrators In London Gather To Denounce Police Brutality In The U.S.

Jun 3, 2020
Originally published on June 3, 2020 6:14 pm
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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Thousands of protesters poured into London's Hyde Park today to deplore the killing of George Floyd and demonstrate in solidarity with people here on the streets in the U.S.

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UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: (Chanting) Say his name.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting) George Floyd.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: (Chanting) Say his name.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting) George Floyd.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: (Chanting) Say his name.

KELLY: This was one of the mass protests not just in London but in Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, showing just how much Floyd's killing and racial justice issues in America are resonating in Europe. NPR's Frank Langfitt reports from Hyde Park.

FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: As thousands crossed the lawn wearing masks and carrying cardboard signs, volunteers urged them to social distance. After all, the U.K. is just beginning to open up from lockdown. The protest violated the current rules. Gary McFarlane with Black Lives Matters (ph) here spoke through a megaphone.

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GARY MCFARLANE: Spread out and make sure you maintain two meters. Distance - social distancing is very important today.

LANGFITT: But those hopes fell apart as people surged to hear McFarlane and others criticize not only police treatment of black people in America but the police response to the subsequent protests that have rocked the U.S.

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MCFARLANE: The instigators of the violence and the outside agitators are the police. And in America, the police are militarized. They have been getting military training, and they have military equipment. But that's not enough for Trump. (Unintelligible) now has to bring the proper U.S. military onto the streets.

LANGFITT: Some said they came today because of their own experience with racism in Britain and because of past injustices here. Yvette Cover (ph) works at a secondary school in London.

YVETTE COVER: When I saw what happened in America, I was absolutely disgusted. My reason for coming today as well for this demonstration - it's not my first demonstration. I was on the demonstration with Roger Sylvester, who was killed in Tottenham.

LANGFITT: Sylvester, who was black and suffered from bipolar disorder, died after police officers restrained him in a padded room. A jury found police guilty of unlawful killing in 2003, but a court overturned the verdict. Cover said she's dealt with racism since she was a kid.

COVER: I was born in the '60s. I'm 54 years old, so I grew up with National Front. I was born in a block of flats where I woke up every morning, and they said [expletive].

LANGFITT: Explain to Americans what the National Front is.

COVER: National Front is your Ku Klu Klan (ph), almost - don't want no foreigners, no black people. So even for me to go into certain shops when I was growing up, there would be what they call skinheads outside these places, telling us to go home - go back to where you come from.

LANGFITT: The National Front is a far-right extremist party that went into decline decades ago. Cover says the racism she felt as a kid persists in Britain, which is why she came out today.

Frank Langfitt, NPR News, Hyde Park, London.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.