A PEACEFUL protest in support of the Black Lives Matter movement took place in Bradford tonight, in what is the first of three planned demonstrations to take place in the city following the death of George Floyd.

There was an “impressive turn out” at Centenary Square to show solidarity with those across the world who are protesting against racism and police brutality, following the death of Mr Floyd – a black man – in an incident involving a white policeman in the US last week.

The protest – supported by local organisations We Are Bradford, Bradford Stand Up to Racism and Black Lives Matter Bradford – took place in line with social distancing rules, and many in attendance wore face masks.

It featured speeches and also saw protestors collectively go down on one knee, a reference to a 2016 protest by American football player Colin Kaepernick, at one point.

Two further protests, which will also take place in Centenary Square, are scheduled to take place at 12 noon on Saturday and at 1pm on Sunday.

Viral footage of Mr Floyd’s death – in an incident involving police officer Derek Chauvin – has sparked worldwide protests.

Mr Floyd, who was 46, was arrested in Minneapolis after it was alleged that he had used counterfeit money to pay for a pack of cigarettes.

Pav Iqbal, one protestor who is also helping to organise Saturday’s protest in Bradford, said: “George Floyd was gasping for air, saying ‘I can’t breathe’ – not for a minute or two, but for nearly nine minutes. It has made us all so angry.

“This incident might not have happened here, but what it does affect what happens in this country and how black people and people of colour are treated. We are oppressed across the world.

“I challenge anyone – of any political persuasion – to watch the video of George’s death and not be moved.

“The protest in Bradford was very powerful. Due to social distancing and everyone being spaced around, it was hard to count numbers, but it was an impressive turn-out. There were a few hundred people there. A lot of people had banners and it was very emotional.

“There were a range of people there, young and old, black, Asian and white. It’s massively importatt, not just in a cosmopolitan city like Bradford, but across the world, to have respect for human life. If we can’t agree on that, what can we agree on?

“It made me very proud to be from Bradford. We made a very powerful statement today, and we’ll continue to do so.

Councillor Ralph Berry estimated that 500 people were present in Centenary Square to protest last night.

He said: “There was a very impressive turn out – everyone was spaced out and were all being very careful. The full space of Centenary Square was occupied.

“It was hard to judge the numbers, but it was impressive.”

“There was a very good and broad mix of people from all different communities in Bradford. Every possible identity in Bradford seemed to be there.”

“Everybody is very disturbed after seeing George Floyd’s death. It happened in America but we’re protesting here as it’s a simple issue of solidarity, it’s important that we show that.

“I’m just another white guy who happened to be there at the protest, I know it’s not about me, it’s about showing solidarity.”

“There’s lots of things we need to do to go about making change.”

“It feels like I’ve been protesting against things like this my whole life”

“There have been issues in this country with racism and police brutality. Maybe not on the same scale, but there still has been. As a global community we have to show solidarity.”

“Bradford has a strong tradition of showing solidarity. We did it with the Syrian community when they first started to come here as refugees, we did it when Jewish refugees came here before the Second World War – we in Bradford have always given a good message, and that was the same at the Black Lives Matter protest.

City Hall, Margaret McMillan Tower, St George's Hall and the arches at Forster Square were lit up last night in a show of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement.