Cries of ‘say his name’ and ‘I can’t breathe’ as thousands gather in Sheffield for peaceful ‘Black Lives Matter’ protest

Thousands of people have gathered in Devonshire Green for a peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstration.

Sunday, 7th June 2020, 7:50 pm

Cries of ‘no justice, no peace,’ and ‘say his name’ echoed around the Sheffield crowd, which gathered to protest the death of George Floyd while in police custody in the US city of Minneapolis last month.

Placards reading ‘your silence is violence’ and ‘I can’t breathe’ - in reference to George Floyd’s last words - were being held aloft at the demonstration, which is one of a number of anti-racism protests being held all across the UK this weekend.

Mr Floyd died after a police officer knelt on his neck while he was detained on the ground.

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Black Lives Matter demonstration in Devonshire Green, Sheffield. 6 June 2020. Picture Bruce Rollinson

During the incident, which was filmed on a mobile phone, Mr Floyd could be heard saying ‘I can‘t breathe.’

Star reporter Steve Jones, who attended the protest, tweeted: ‘Rain hasn't dampened energy and passion one bit. Stewards also helping with social distancing and handing out protective face masks.

‘Young people from Sheffield are taking it in turns to deliver speeches from the front of the demonstration at the skatepark.’

A post on the Sheffield protest’s Facebook page, ahead of the event, read: ‘Organised by young people, Sheffield stands in solidarity with the protests and uprisings in US states that are demanding justice for the lives of black people murdered, including on camera and in broad daylight, due to police brutality.’

Black Lives Matter demonstration in Devonshire Green, Sheffield. 6 June 2020. Picture Bruce Rollinson

At 2pm, many in the crowd took a knee – a symbol of solidarity for the cause that has been echoed at gatherings and protests across the globe in the last week.

Shortly after that, some of the crowd began to march towards West Street - despite organisers asking them to remain in Devonshire Green.

Ministers had urged people to avoid mass gatherings this weekend, and police have warned that mass demonstrations could be unlawful during the coronavirus pandemic.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that he was ‘appalled’ by the death of Mr Floyd, but stressed that the UK was still facing a health crisis and coronavirus remained a ‘real threat.’

Black Lives Matter demonstration in Devonshire Green, Sheffield. 6 June 2020. Picture Bruce Rollinson

Mr Hancock said he could understand why people were ‘deeply upset’, but said in a bid to reduce the spread of coronavirus said people in the UK should not attend large gatherings.

Black Lives Matter demonstration in Devonshire Green, Sheffield. 6 June 2020. Picture Bruce Rollinson