Wolverhampton hosts 1,000-strong Black Lives Matter rally

Around 1,000 people have gathered in an act of solidarity supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.

Wolverhampton's West Park hosted the rally this afternoon joining many others across the UK this weekend.

It came as a protest was also held in Dudley's Coronation Gardens today.

Around 4,000 people attended a gathering in Birmingham city centre on Thursday.

More updates from the rally here:

Meanwhile at a rally today in Bristol, a statue depicting 17th century slave trader Edward Colston was pulled down.

Similar large-scale rallies were being held outside the US Embassy in Battersea, south-west London, and in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Everal Blake, from Wolverhampton said it was about "showing solidarity" at the protest in West Park.

He said: "Being here today is just about showing solidarity to the cause and the plight of George Floyd really brought it home.

"It's nice to see that people in general are here to support something that is inhumane and needs to be dealt with in a level manner, not in an attitude that is totally wrong around the table.

"What can be achieved from today is the coming together of people, not just here in England, but worldwide.

"It has a voice and it has a strength to it and so, I believe. It's a catalyst to greater things hopefully.

"This is about black people and historical hurts and issues that need to be dealt with.

"The leaders worldwide really need to look at themselves and also how they treat other human beings.

Omar Henry, aged 22, from Wolverhampton added: "What it means for me to be here today is to see the community come together for Black Lives Matter.

“It's just nice to see that there's different skin colours here to all share the same view on something that is going around worldwide.

“We're not out here to be violent and we actually are here to be peaceful and just to show you guys out there that our lives do matter and that we will stand for what is right and we're not going to just be controlled by a government anymore."

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner has said assaults on officers at an anti-racism rally in London yesterday were "shocking and completely unacceptable" ahead of more demonstrations planned across the UK on Sunday.

Dame Cressida Dick said 14 officers were injured during clashes with a minority of protesters in central London on Saturday following a peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstration.

The force said 14 people had been arrested after tensions escalated while Dame Cressida said in a statement that there was "no place for violence" in the capital.

"I am deeply saddened and depressed that a minority of protesters became violent towards officers in central London yesterday evening," Dame Cressida said.

More coverage:

"This led to 14 officers being injured, in addition to 13 hurt in earlier protests this week.

"We have made a number of arrests and justice will follow. The number of assaults is shocking and completely unacceptable.

"I know many who were seeking to make their voices heard will be as appalled as I am by those scenes. There is no place for violence in our city.

"Officers displayed extreme patience and professionalism throughout a long and difficult day, and I thank them for that."

Sadiq Khan said that while the majority of protesters were peaceful, pockets of violence was "simply not acceptable".

In a statement, the London Mayor said: "I stand with you and share your anger and pain. George Floyd's brutal killing must lead to immediate and lasting change in countries, cities, police services and institutions everywhere. We must root out racism wherever it is found.

"The vast majority of protesters in London were peaceful. But this vital cause was badly let down by a tiny minority who turned violent and threw glass bottles and lit flares, endangering other protesters and injuring police officers.

"This is simply not acceptable, will not be tolerated and will not win the lasting and necessary change we desperately need to see."

Also attending the protest in Wolverhampton was 22-year-old Brogan from Willenhall who said: "What it means for me to be down here is being able to do any job as a white person to support other people and support the black community.

"From today, I'd like people to see it as an issue that it's not just this generation that's seeing that this is an issue.

"It’s that we've got lots of other people here that are middle aged and lots of white men and white women and it's not just a subject for this generation.

"I’d like those in charge to know that we know that it's a systemic issue it's not just an issue that you can press on the public and that it's their job to sort it out and they've instilled this problem.”

Isabelle, also aged 22 and from Willenhall, added: "I'm going to be a teacher soon, and I'm really passionate about the cause and I think our signs reflect that everything in education is really whitewashed, and it all starts from education.

"I think we need to do and white people need to do a better job of educating the young first. I hope, from today, we can just spread awareness.

"This isn't as big of a city as Birmingham, for example, so I think if more protests happen, whether it's as big as the one in Birmingham or not, I just think that it's a good thing to spread the word."

Top Stories

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News