THE second of three peaceful protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement took place in Bradford today, as hundreds came to Centenary Square to take a stand against racism and police brutality.

Protestors – who stood in a socially distanced fashion, with many wearing masks – were there to show solidarity following the death of George Floyd.

Mr Floyd, a black man, died on May 25 after a white police officer pressed his knee against his neck while he was handcuffed, ignoring his “I can’t breathe” cries.

Bystander video sparked outrage over Mr Floyd’s death and protests, some violent, that spread across the US and beyond.

Prosecutors in the US filed a tougher charge against the police officer at the centre of the case and charged three other officers.

The most serious charge was filed against Derek Chauvin, who was seen on video pressing his knee to Mr Floyd’s neck and now must defend himself against an accusation of second-degree murder.

The three other officers at the scene – Thomas Lane, J Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao – were charged for the first time with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

All four were fired last week.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

Demonstrations against racism and police brutality have now spread to Bradford, with the first protest in the city taking place on Wednesday.

Those in attendance today held banners and applauded, as speeches were made.

A third protest is expected to be held tomorrow, starting at 1pm, in Centenary Square.

Pav Iqbal, who helped to organise today’s protest, said: “This week has been an emotional rollercoaster. We are in Bradford to show solidarity in our fight against the brutality that was inflicted on George Floyd, and has been inflicted on many other black people in America.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

“It’s been hard because of George’s death, but also because of the pandemic – we had to respect both of those things in a safe manner.

“The pandemic is very real. But everyone at the protest today was socially distanced, and nearly everyone had a mask on. Everyone protested safely and peacefully and showed respect and solidarity.

“America is our closest ally. We can’t watch this happen and just say that it’s okay. It’s barbaric – black people aren’t even being treated as second-class citizens in America, it’s worse than that.

“Today wasn’t about politics. Centenary Square was full of ordinary people, just like you and me, who could have also been a victim of something like this.

“The event wasn’t a march and there was no trouble or violence. The police came up to us at the end and said thanks for holding such a beautiful and peaceful event here in Bradford.

“We’ve had loads of messages about how powerful these protests in Bradford have been. People have said that they really needed this, to be amongst others who shared their anger over the incident.

“We have an amazing city. It’s a multi-cultural city where we’re brave enough to talk about these issues. There were people from all walks of life and backgrounds here today.

“People of colour have all sorts of issues that we have had to face. It’s distressing to hear about the things my parents had to face in the 70s and 80s, and the things I had to face in the 80s and 90s.

“Today is the anniversary of D-Day – soldiers from across the world landed in France and went to fight fascism. We fought it because it was wrong, and we have to keep fighting against it today.

“What happened to George does not reflect our values as a society, so we have to take a stand.”

Vic Brett, Pav’s partner, was also in attendance, and said: “All lives matter, and I agree with that, but black lives matter particularly at the moment, because black people are the ones who are being abused and ill-treated.

“One of the speakers at Wednesday’s protest made an excellent analogy – she told the crowd to look at all the buildings around them. She said all these buildings matter, but imagine if one of them was on fire – that building is the one that needs our support at the moment.”

Flo Brett-Iqbal, their daughter, added: “We’re here today to show solidarity and respect to people who have been oppressed.

“Yes, this incident happened in America, but we’re all human and it’s everyone’s problem – not just America’s.”

Ruby Blake, 23 and from the Nab Wood/Saltaire area, said: “Something needs to change, like it was said in the multiple speeches that took place today. The same things that we were saying today, have been said for years.

“I think that the education system has to change. There should be a change in what we’re taught – we need to educate the next generation, so things like what happened to George Floyd don’t happen again.

“The incident happened in the US and police brutality, particularly against black people, is more blatant there, but that does not mean that it doesn’t happen here in the UK, too.”

One 35-year-old man who lives in Bradford, but wished to stay anonymous, said: “I’m originally from Cameroon and I’ve lived in several parts of the UK – I have experienced racism in one way or another very often.

“This movement calls for us to change. We know that change will not come any time soon, but we can help to bring it about.

“Social media has been a good tool and has shown the whole world what has been happening all these years.

“A lot of us African, Caribbean and Asian people here in Bradford have suffered racial abuse, so it’s only right that we come together and say no to this racism.”

John, an asylum seeker from Ghana who was also in attendance, added: “We need justice and we need peace. It’s important that everyone comes together, because what happened to George Floyd can happen here too.”

One 17-year-old protestor, from Wibsey, came to the protest with her father, and said: “Police brutality and racism are not just problems in America. In the UK a lot of black people have died in police custody and it’s time to educate people and dismantle this institutional racism.

“There is racism here in Bradford. It’s a very diverse city, but it’s also segregated. At secondary school, I heard a lot of racial slurs directed at black and Asian people.

“It’s a problem for all of us. We can’t just leave black people to deal with a problem that black people didn’t create. That’s why this protest is so important.”