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LIVE: Black Lives Matters protests across Kent

Hundreds of people across Kent have joined Black Lives Matter protests after the killing of George Floyd in America.

A number of peaceful demonstrations have been held across the county to remember the American who died after police officers knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes in Minneapolis last month. However in London, protestors and police clashed.

Black Lives Matter march through Chatham. Picture: Noah Lock
Black Lives Matter march through Chatham. Picture: Noah Lock

Crowds of people took to the streets today in Kent including Deal, Tunbridge Wells, Chatham, Tenterden and Canterbury.

Thousands gathered in Tunbridge Wells to march through the centre to Calverley Grounds where they knelt in memory of George Floyd.

Organisers said

There was a similar march through Chatham where hundreds took to the streets.

Many people in Kent have already held events to support the movement, including an Ashford school girl who held her own protest before opening up about her own experiences of racism.

People in Gravesend and Medway have also held events against racism towards black people. In Gravesend, Kent's Chief Constable Alan Pughsley was among those to kneel.

More than 100 people joined Medway's Stand Up For Racism group on Thursday for a peaceful protest following the death of George Floyd.

The group held another event today, which was attended by many more, starting at the White Lion end of Chatham High Street at 11.15am.

They then walked "peacefully and socially distanced" through the street.

Speakers then talked about the importance of showing the strength of feeling.

Organiser Mikey Ragga said: "We are here to stand up as one community and show our solidarity with our brothers and sisters in America, remembering George Floyd and all the others who have suffered and died under a racially-divided system where if you are black you are less."

Black Lives Matter protestors in Sevenoaks. Picture: Audrey Iwasko
Black Lives Matter protestors in Sevenoaks. Picture: Audrey Iwasko

A level photography student Noah Lock was also among those involved.

"I would say it was very civilised and well organised and run," he said. "Everyone was very respectful, the march down the high street was done in complete silence.

"Despite there being so many people - the line went all the way to James Street - everybody maintained the two metre distance.

"I feel it’s important to participate in as well as document these important events, so that they can be looked back on in years to come."

A silent gathering in Deal mourned the death of George Floyd and protest against racial injustice.

Barman and waiter Lewis Foord organised the socially-distanced memorial at Deal seafront as a poignant reminder of how the 46-year-old was killed.

Those present stood on and around the roundabout in Beach Street from noon and at 1pm, knelt down on one knee for eight minutes 46 seconds to represent the amount of time Mr Floyd was knelt on by the police officer.

Mr Foord said: "It's some symbolism so people in the area know how long he was on the ground for.

"It was highly emotional and hard to face some of the racial slurs and hate speech at times but overall deal was very supportive!!

The Black Lives Matter protest in Deal received support from people honking horns (36230865)
The Black Lives Matter protest in Deal received support from people honking horns (36230865)
People gathered this afternoon in Deal. Picture: Graham Sullivan
People gathered this afternoon in Deal. Picture: Graham Sullivan

In Maidstone, people met near Mote Park at 11am for a ShowLove stand-in protest.

A group set up online for the event said it was to "stop the silence, stop police brutality and stop racism".

In Canterbury, crowds walked through the city centre, waving placards.

One said: "Silence is violence".

There was also a small protest in Tenterden, organised by a 16-year-old.

It was a similiar picture across the country as thousands ignored Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s plea not to gather during lockdown.

Boxing heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua was among them.

He was on crutches as he joined people on a peaceful protest in his home town of Watford.

Many people wore masks and social distancing measures were encouraged during events in London, Manchester, Cardiff, Sheffield and Newcastle, among other cities.

However, there has been disturbing scenes in London this evening as police and protesters clashed.

At Friday’s coronavirus news briefing, Mr Hancock warned people against joining the demonstrations this weekend, pointing out “we’re still facing a health crisis and coronavirus remains a real threat”.

Read more: All the latest news from Kent


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