Thousands join London protest against George Floyd death

Thousands of people have gathered in London to protest against the death of a black man restrained by police in America.

The Black Lives Matter demonstration on Sunday was organised after George Floyd died when a white officer held him down by pressing a knee into his neck last Monday in Minneapolis.

Some London protesters, crowded together despite social distancing restrictions, held signs reading "Justice for George" and "Rest in power".

Reverend Sally Hitchiner, associate vicar at St Martin-in-the-Fields church on Trafalgar Square, said she could see hundreds gathered for the protest from her workplace.

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Londoners protest US death
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 31: People gather during a protest over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after being pinned down by a white police officer in USA, at Trafalgar Square on May 31, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Ilyas Tayfun Salci/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 31: People gather during a protest over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after being pinned down by a white police officer in USA, at Trafalgar Square on May 31, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Ilyas Tayfun Salci/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 31: People gather during a protest over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after being pinned down by a white police officer in USA, at Trafalgar Square on May 31, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Ilyas Tayfun Salci/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 31: People gather during a protest over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after being pinned down by a white police officer in USA, at Trafalgar Square on May 31, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Ilyas Tayfun Salci/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 31: People gather during a protest over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after being pinned down by a white police officer in USA, at Trafalgar Square on May 31, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Ilyas Tayfun Salci/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 31: People gather during a protest over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after being pinned down by a white police officer in USA, at Trafalgar Square on May 31, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Ilyas Tayfun Salci/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 31: People gather during a protest over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after being pinned down by a white police officer in USA, at Trafalgar Square on May 31, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Ilyas Tayfun Salci/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Demonstrators stop a bus as they block the street in Sloane Square in London on May 31, 2020 after marching on the US embassy to protest the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest in Minneapolis, USA. - Hundreds gathered in central London and marched to the US Embassy to protest the death of an unarmed black man in Minneapolis while in police custody that has sparked days of unrest in the US city and beyond. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)
A woman is led away by police during a Black Lives Matter protest outside the US Embassy in London. The protest follows the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, US, this week which has seen a police officer charged with third-degree murder. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images)
Demonstrators carry placards with slogans as they march near the US Embassy in London on May 31, 2020 to protest the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest in Minneapolis, USA. - Hundreds gathered in central London and marched to teh US Embassy to protest the death of an unarmed black man in Minneapolis while in police custody that has sparked days of unrest in the US city and beyond. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)
Demonstrators carry placards as they march in the road near the US Embassy in central London on May 31, 2020 to protest the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest in Minneapolis, USA. - Hundreds gathered in central London and marched to the US Embassy to protest the death of an unarmed black man in Minneapolis while in police custody that has sparked days of unrest in the US city and beyond. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)
A woman holds a sign out of the sunroof of a car in central London on May 31, 2020 calling for justice following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest in Minneapolis, USA. - Hundreds gathered in central London and marched to teh US Embassy to protest the death of an unarmed black man in Minneapolis while in police custody that has sparked days of unrest in the US city and beyond. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)
Demonstrators carry placards as they march in the road near the US Embassy in central London on May 31, 2020 to protest the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest in Minneapolis, USA. - Hundreds gathered in central London and marched to the US Embassy to protest the death of an unarmed black man in Minneapolis while in police custody that has sparked days of unrest in the US city and beyond. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)
A demonstrator holds up a sign reminding people to social distance during a Black Lives Matter protest outside the US Embassy in London. The protest follows the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, US, this week which has seen a police officer charged with third-degree murder. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images)
Demonstrators stand on top of a bus shelter they march near the US Embassy in central London on May 31, 2020 to protest the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest in Minneapolis, USA. - Hundreds gathered in central London and marched to teh US Embassy to protest the death of an unarmed black man in Minneapolis while in police custody that has sparked days of unrest in the US city and beyond. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)
People take part in a Black Lives Matter protest outside the US Embassy in London. The protest follows the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, US, this week which has seen a police officer charged with third-degree murder. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images)
People take part in a Black Lives Matter protest outside the US Embassy in London. The protest follows the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, US, this week which has seen a police officer charged with third-degree murder. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images)
Demonstrators carry placards with slogans as they march in the road outside the US Embassy in London on May 31, 2020 to protest the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest in Minneapolis, USA. - Hundreds gathered in central London and marched to teh US Embassy to protest the death of an unarmed black man in Minneapolis while in police custody that has sparked days of unrest in the US city and beyond. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) / The erroneous mention[s] appearing in the metadata of this photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS has been modified in AFP systems in the following manner: [London] instead of [Brighton]. Please immediately remove the erroneous mention[s] from all your online services and delete it (them) from your servers. If you have been authorized by AFP to distribute it (them) to third parties, please ensure that the same actions are carried out by them. Failure to promptly comply with these instructions will entail liability on your part for any continued or post notification usage. Therefore we thank you very much for all your attention and prompt action. We are sorry for the inconvenience this notification may cause and remain at your disposal for any further information you may require. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)
Demonstrators shout slogans as they march in the road outside the US Embassy in London on May 31, 2020 to protest the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest in Minneapolis, USA. - Hundreds gathered in central London and marched to teh US Embassy to protest the death of an unarmed black man in Minneapolis while in police custody that has sparked days of unrest in the US city and beyond. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) / The erroneous mention[s] appearing in the metadata of this photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS has been modified in AFP systems in the following manner: [London] instead of [Brighton]. Please immediately remove the erroneous mention[s] from all your online services and delete it (them) from your servers. If you have been authorized by AFP to distribute it (them) to third parties, please ensure that the same actions are carried out by them. Failure to promptly comply with these instructions will entail liability on your part for any continued or post notification usage. Therefore we thank you very much for all your attention and prompt action. We are sorry for the inconvenience this notification may cause and remain at your disposal for any further information you may require. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)
Demonstrators sit down in the road outside the US Embassy in London on May 31, 2020 to protest the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest in Minneapolis, USA. - Hundreds gathered in central London and marched to teh US Embassy to protest the death of an unarmed black man in Minneapolis while in police custody that has sparked days of unrest in the US city and beyond. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) / The erroneous mention[s] appearing in the metadata of this photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS has been modified in AFP systems in the following manner: [London] instead of [Brighton]. Please immediately remove the erroneous mention[s] from all your online services and delete it (them) from your servers. If you have been authorized by AFP to distribute it (them) to third parties, please ensure that the same actions are carried out by them. Failure to promptly comply with these instructions will entail liability on your part for any continued or post notification usage. Therefore we thank you very much for all your attention and prompt action. We are sorry for the inconvenience this notification may cause and remain at your disposal for any further information you may require. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)
Demonstrators block the road as they gather outside the US Embassy in London on May 31, 2020 to protest the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest in Minneapolis, USA. - Hundreds gathered in central London and marched to teh US Embassy to protest the death of an unarmed black man in Minneapolis while in police custody that has sparked days of unrest in the US city and beyond. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) / The erroneous mention[s] appearing in the metadata of this photo by JUSTIN TALLIS has been modified in AFP systems in the following manner: [London] instead of [Brighton]. Please immediately remove the erroneous mention[s] from all your online services and delete it (them) from your servers. If you have been authorized by AFP to distribute it (them) to third parties, please ensure that the same actions are carried out by them. Failure to promptly comply with these instructions will entail liability on your part for any continued or post notification usage. Therefore we thank you very much for all your attention and prompt action. We are sorry for the inconvenience this notification may cause and remain at your disposal for any further information you may require. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Demonstrators block the road as they gather outside the US Embassy in London on May 31, 2020 to protest the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest in Minneapolis, USA. - Hundreds gathered in central London and marched to teh US Embassy to protest the death of an unarmed black man in Minneapolis while in police custody that has sparked days of unrest in the US city and beyond. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) / The erroneous mention[s] appearing in the metadata of this photo by JUSTIN TALLIS has been modified in AFP systems in the following manner: [London] instead of [Brighton]. Please immediately remove the erroneous mention[s] from all your online services and delete it (them) from your servers. If you have been authorized by AFP to distribute it (them) to third parties, please ensure that the same actions are carried out by them. Failure to promptly comply with these instructions will entail liability on your part for any continued or post notification usage. Therefore we thank you very much for all your attention and prompt action. We are sorry for the inconvenience this notification may cause and remain at your disposal for any further information you may require. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
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The 40-year-old told the PA news agency: "I'm very sympathetic to the issue but also surprised to see the strength of emotion that has gathered people together.

"It's showing there are people in the UK who care passionately about the situation in the US.

"Clearly they're not following lockdown and social distancing, but I think there's a huge amount of passion there and that's overriding their concerns.

"It's an issue that requires passion but at the same time there's a huge amount of risk in what they're doing."

She said police appeared to be moving the crowd on from the square by early afternoon.

Tens of thousands of people have joined nightly protests across the US since the death, with at least 1,600 people arrested in 22 cities as some demonstrations descended into violence.

A police officer has been sacked and charged with third-degree murder following Mr Floyd's death.

Earlier on Sunday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said video footage of Mr Floyd's death was "very distressing", but he would not comment on President Donald Trump's response to the widespread protests sparked by the killing.

The president has been criticised after warning on Twitter that "looting leads to shooting".

He later attempted to clarify his words by further tweeting on Friday: "Looting leads to shooting, and that's why a man was shot and killed in Minneapolis on Wednesday night – or look at what just happened in Louisville with 7 people shot. I don't want this to happen, and that's what the expression put out last night means."

Mr Raab told Sky's Sophy Ridge on Sunday: "I'm not going to start commenting on the commentary or indeed the press statements that other world leaders make, or indeed the US president.

"What we do know is that the lead suspect has now been charged with murder, there is a federal review and we want to see de-escalation of all of those tensions and American come together."

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