Up to 5,000 join peaceful Black Lives Matter protest in Brighton

Michael Drummond, PA South East Correspondent

Thousands of protesters have marched through the streets Brighton in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Demonstrators wearing black and holding up signs protesting against systemic racism gathered by the city’s famous Palace Pier at midday on Saturday before moving off through the city.

Many wore face masks and carried placards with slogans including “Decolonise everything” and “Defund the police”.

The protesters gathered at the Palace Pier before marching through the city’s streets (Aaron Chown/PA)

Up to 5,000 people took part in the peaceful protest, Sussex Police said.

One man was arrested on suspicion of using threatening and abusive words which were allegedly directed towards the protest event.

Chief Inspector Jon Carter said: “We would like to say thank you to the participants and also to those who weren’t involved in the protest, but who may have been held up for a short time while the event made its way through the city, for their patience and support.”

Demonstrators set off along the seafront shouting “Black lives matter every day” and “UK is not innocent”.

As protesters passed the Brighton war memorial they were serenaded by a string quartet.

The musical tribute was in stark contrast to the protest last month which saw a small group occupy the stone monument amid a heavy police presence.

The death of George Floyd in the US led to continued protests around the world (Aaron Chown/PA)

Gathering in their thousands at The Level after making their way north from the seafront, the protesters shouted out in unison: “It is our duty to do this every day.

“It is our duty to fight for racial justice.

“It is our duty to win. We are stronger together.

“We are here with love, peace and solidarity.

“We have nothing to lose – too many have already lost too much.”

The latest protest comes days after outcry over a video showing a man shouting “I can’t breathe” while being restrained on the ground by three police officers in the city.

Sussex Police said the man was arrested and became aggressive towards officers before being placed on the ground.

The incident has been referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

It comes days after an incident in the city in which a man being restrained by police was filmed shouting ‘I can’t breathe’ (Aaron Chown/PA)

One protester speaking to the crowds on a megaphone addressed the video.

She shouted: “Sussex Police has recently been filmed using excessive force on a young black man.”

Last month, more than 10,000 protesters marched through the East Sussex city in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement worldwide.

There have been calls for the popular seafront resort to become an officially anti-racist city.

Carmen Appich, chair of the council’s tourism, equality, communities and culture committee, said: “In the wake of the sickening killing of George Floyd (in the US) the global calls for change and the impact of Covid-19 on black and ethnic minority people, we made a public pledge to become an anti-racist council.

“We acknowledge that it is not enough to be non-racist and we must actively use our privilege, position as community leaders and platforms to challenge structural racism and injustice within the council and in the city.”

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