UK demonstrators hold fourth weekend of anti-racism protests


LONDON (AP) – Anti-racism demonstrators are holding a fourth weekend of protests across the U.K., despite a ban on large gatherings because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Demonstrations were taking place Saturday in cities including London, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Hundreds assembled for a socially distanced Say No to Racism rally in Glasgow’s George Square, where earlier this week members of the far right attacked a refugee-rights gathering.

In Edinburgh, protesters including “Trainspotting” author Irvine Welsh called for the removal of a statue of Henry Dundas from its column in the city’s St. Andrew Square. The late 18th-century Scottish politician was responsible for delaying Britain’s abolition of the slave trade by 15 years until 1807. During that time, more than half a million enslaved Africans were trafficked across the Atlantic.

Hundreds of thousands of people have held mostly peaceful anti-racism protests across Britain since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, urging the U.K. to confront its own history of imperialism and racial inequality.

After some protesters scuffled with police and defaced a statue of wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill in London, and demonstrators in Bristol toppled a statue of slave trader Edward Colston, counter-protesters rallied last week with the stated aim of protecting monuments.

Hundreds of far-right activists clashed June 13 with police near the Churchill statue in London, which had been boarded up for protection.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced he is setting up a commission to look at what more can be done to eliminate racial injustice, but opponents accuse the Conservative government of opting for talk rather than action.

People listen to speeches during a rally to support the Black Lives Matter movement in Birmingham, England, Friday June 19, 2020. A white U.S. Police officer in Minneapolis, recently killed black man George Floyd, sparking anti-racism protests worldwide, and the Black Lives Matter movement hoping to enable reforms and greater social justice. (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)