Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Kingston today (June 6) in support of the Black Lives Matter movement demanding racial justice and an end to police violence.

The demonstration mirrored a larger protest attended by thousands in Parliament Square in central London, and many others around the world.

Protesters in Kingston gathered outside Guildhall before marching through the town, with many wearing masks in an effort to minimize the risks of transmitting Covid-19 coronavirus.

They held aloft placards bearing slogans of the Black Lives Matter movement including "I Can't Breathe" and "Silence Is Violence".

One of the protesters named Ellie, a final year politics student at Bristol who lives in Teddington, told the Comet why she was marching on Saturday:

"I'm protesting because I'm furious about the continual injustices faced by black people at the hands of the police and public in both America and Britain.

"As a white person I can never truly understand the oppression faced by those who are BAME, but I can act in support and solidarity," she said.

Surrey Comet: Black Lives Matter protesters gather to demand racial justice in Kingston. Image: Ollie Monk / @olliegmonkBlack Lives Matter protesters gather to demand racial justice in Kingston. Image: Ollie Monk / @olliegmonk

"And the more people who protest, donate, sign petitions and write to their MP, the more that those in power have to take notice of these issues and do something about them.

"There's no excuse for being a bystander anymore. We need change in our culture and institutions now, otherwise these outrages will keep happening," the protester added.

Protests for race equality under the Black Lives Matter slogan were first seen in the US in 2014, and rose again in the US and across the world in the last 10 days after the killing of African American man George Floyd at the hands of police in Minnesota.

John Azah, the founder of Kingston Race Equalities Council (KREC) wrote in an open letter seen by the Comet that BAME communities in Kingston wanted to show solidarity with family of George Floyd and those protesting in the wake of his death:

"In the Royal Borough of Kingston BAME communities want to identify with the suffering and grief of the family of George Floyd, show strong support for the campaign for justice for BAME people across America and the world and to urge that positive action is taken to stop such deaths and violence taking place.

"And if they do swift action should be taken to ensure that justice is seen to be done," he said.

As the Black Lives Matter demonstration took place on Saturday afternoon, Azah joined an online memorial for Derick Mulondo, a black man who was stabbed to death in an assault on the Cambridge Road Estate by a white woman in 2017.

Surrey Comet: Black Lives Matter protesters march through central Kingston. Image: Ellie BrownBlack Lives Matter protesters march through central Kingston. Image: Ellie Brown

Ellie later described some of the scenes and atmosphere on the Kingston protest  Saturday. 

"There was an amazing feeling of anger and solidarity," she said.

"Many of the protestors had signs with the names of UK victims of police brutality, emphasising that 'the UK is not innocent'.

"The most powerful moment was when we knelt in silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in memory of George Floyd, many people around me holding up their signs and fists in the black power salute."