Black Lives Matter: Sheffield filled with a ‘lovely feeling of unity and peace’
Sheffield city centre was filled with a ‘lovely feeling of unity and peace’ today as thousands gathered to support the Black Lives Matter movement.
Star reporter Sophie Wills described ‘peaceful’ scenes as people waved banners and put their fists in the air during the protest at Devonshire Green and an unplanned march along West Street.
The protest - one of many held in the UK with London, Manchester, Cardiff, and Leicester also taking part - was sparked by the death of George Floyd in the US.
A crowd of hundreds - who shouted ‘no justice, no peace’ and ‘say his name’ - quickly grew to thousands on Devonshire Green this afternoon.
Despite organisers asking protesters to remain in the city park the crowd began marching along West Street, eventually making their way back via Division Street.
Sophie, who attended to show her support, described a ‘peaceful undercurrent’ - saying ‘it was a remarkable thing to be part of’.
She said: “When we started marching I was a bit concerned but it was peaceful and it was very impassioned with everyone respecting each other - there was a lovely feeling of unity.”
Reporter Sophie told how the traffic on West street was ‘completely blocked’ however drivers showed solidarity by beeping their horns and shouting encouragement.
She added: “The police presence was non-existent - I saw one police van the whole time which is baffling when you consider how many police attend football matches.”
Today’s protests have drawn a lot of controversy - with an obvious risk of increasing the spread of Covid-19.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock - though ‘appalled’ by the death of Mr Floyd – urged people in the UK not to attend large gatherings.
Sophie said protesters ‘did their best’ and ‘the majority of people were wearing masks and gloves’.
She added: “Organisers were handing out gloves and hand sanitiser but there were so many people it wasn’t always possible to keep your distance.
“We’re all aware of the risks with Covid-19 but people have to realise the reason people are breaking restrictions is because people are being discriminated against and murdered.”