A music producer who threw a bottle during violent clashes with police at a Black Lives Matter protest has been handed a suspended prison sentence.
Juan Blanco, 23, was among thousands of demonstrators who took the streets of central London on June 3 last year, just over a week after the death in the US of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer.
While most of the protests passed without incident, Southwark crown court heard a “hostile crowd” of up to 300 people began throwing missiles at ranks of police officers in Parliament Square which prompted an urgent call for back-up.
“One of the inspectors saw a man throwing a bottle towards police officers”, said prosecutor Tim Devlin. “He then observed the same man running away in an attempt to avoid police.
“Mr Blanco was that man, and he was then arrested.”
Questioned at the scene in King Charles Street, near to Downing Street, Blanco admitted to officers: “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I threw it.” He added it was an empty plastic bottle.
Blanco pleaded guilty to affray and said he had not aimed the missile at a particular officer but conceding the act would have caused fear and distress.
Blanco, a Spanish national who now lives in the UK, has toured Europe through his work as a music producer and DJ. His barrister Russell Fraser said Blanco is “genuinely remorseful” for his actions, having “got caught up in everything and went too far”.
“He is not a seasoned protestor, but he feels a particular degree of empathy about that issue, as he makes his living mainly from soul and jazz music,” he said.
“That’s a culture he has benefitted from to a great extent, he has a lot of friends who are black, and that’s why he went along that day.”
Sentencing Blanco to an eight-month prison term, suspended for a year, Judge Phillip Bartle QC said: “You went as a gesture of solidarity to the Black Lives Matter cause which of course is one that everybody respects.
“The problem is on this occasion a potentially peaceful protest became anything but peaceful.”
He added: “I’m sure you are remorseful and I hope, as well as being out of character, that this is the last time you will appear before a court.”
No officer was injured as a result of Blanco throwing the bottle.
On the same day as this incident, actor John Boyega was filmed delivering a passionate speech to fellow protestors in Hyde Park. A series of BLM demonstrations continued to be held in central London during last summer which mostly passed peacefully.
Blanco, who lives in Aylesford in Kent, was ordered to carry out 150 hours of community service and pay £1500 in prosecution costs.