A Black Lives Matter protest following the death of George Floyd in America will be taking place today (Thursday, June 4) at Barnstaple Square.

People participate in a Black Lives Matter protest rally outside the Guildhall in Southampton, in memory of George Floyd. Picture:: Andrew Matthews/PA WirePeople participate in a Black Lives Matter protest rally outside the Guildhall in Southampton, in memory of George Floyd. Picture:: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

People have been urged to attend the peaceful gathering at 1.30pm today organised by Stand Up to Racism North Devon if they wish to protest against hate and racism, with similar scenes and events taking place around the world.

Organisers have asked people to observe social distancing, not to attend if they have any coronavirus symptoms and have said they will be chalking out two metre squares to ensure distancing.

On May 25 George Floyd died during his arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which saw police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on his neck for almost nine minutes, shocking scenes which were filmed by stunned bystanders and broadcast around the world.

Chauvin has since been charged with second degree murder and the officers with him face charges of aiding and abetting.

The scenes shocked people in AMerica and far beyond, with protests in several countries, including a gathering of thousands in London yesterday (June 3).

Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer issued a statement today saying racism and discrimination ‘undermine our common humanity and are not acceptable’.

He referred to communities coming together to fight Covid-19 and said: “This is a time for communities and individuals to overtly speak out in support of those from Black and Ethnic Minority communities, to reaffirm our collective rejection of racism and hate.”

But he urged anyone organising an event to contact the police: “As a force, we ask that anyone organising a vigil or demonstration contact us in order that we can help facilitate that expression of feeling, which occurs at a time of a public health crisis.

“I believe it essential that the core message of standing up against hate and racism does not become lost by behaviours that may be commented upon in respect of Covid-19, when such a tragic and significant moment has affected so many people in this country and worldwide.

“Racism and all forms of discrimination undermine our common humanity and are not acceptable in any civilised society.

“As a force, that is our approach yet we understand that we are not perfect and have always sought to listen and learn from experiences as well as the views of all our communities.”