U.K. Rallies In Support Of U.S. Protests Over Death Of George Floyd

Jun 3, 2020
Originally published on June 4, 2020 8:32 pm
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And now let's go to London's Hyde Park, where thousands of people today have turned out for a rally in solidarity with the protests in America.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: Say his name.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: George Floyd.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: Say his name.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: George Floyd.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: Say his name.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: George Floyd.

INSKEEP: They're saying his name in London. NPR's Frank Langfitt has been with the protesters. And Frank, why has George Floyd's death resonated with people where you are?

FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: Yeah, it's been really striking, Steve, as to how much it's resonated. People say that they experience a lot of racist incidents here as well. There's a woman named Belly Mujinga who was spat on. She, I believe, was a ticket taker on London transport. She got COVID-19 and died. And people were, of course, very angry about that. I was also talking to a guy named Gary Gordon (ph) here who, you know, described, years ago, being stopped by police and only being allowed to leave, basically what he felt it was under false pretenses and only getting out because he actually happened to work for the BBC, so they let him go.

So a lot of this - the kind of racism and casual racism that you hear in the United States, you hear from people here. They've been experiencing this for many years, so they connect to it.

INSKEEP: We're talking with Frank Langfitt. He's in London's Hyde Park, and we can hear the helicopter overhead as you are talking, Frank. Because you mentioned COVID-19, because Eleanor mentioned COVID-19, I'd like to know if this is in any way a socially distant crowd.

LANGFITT: It's not. They tried in the beginning. It was fascinating, Steve. I got here, and it was almost like ushers at a movie theater. And they were saying, here take your - they tried very hard. You know, here are some masks. Here are some gloves, and you can go sit down in a certain place. But then once it got going, everybody stood up, and they all rushed to the center to listen to people protest and chant and tell stories. And so no, it is not socially distanced.

What's really interesting is that Black Lives Matter UK, which is the umbrella group, is actually not a part of this march. It's being run by Black Lives Matter London because, frankly, blacks of African descent have been hit the hardest by COVID-19 here. And the idea of a lot of people coming out here and doing a non-socially distanced event, people are worried that it's just going to spread the disease. So absolutely an issue and very little social distancing, Steve.

INSKEEP: And yet in spite of all those concerns, thousands of people are present, right?

LANGFITT: Yeah. I mean, right now it's got to be - it looks like easily 10,000 to me right here on the lawn.

INSKEEP: And this is one of many protests across Europe in the last few days, right?

LANGFITT: It is. We've had them in Amsterdam, Copenhagen. And we're going to have at least two more in London in the next few days.

INSKEEP: OK. NPR's Frank Langfitt in Hyde Park in London. Frank, thanks so much.

LANGFITT: You're very welcome, Steve. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.