Boris Johnson says 'Black Lives Matter' amid claims he’s stayed silent on US police brutality protests

James Morris
·Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
·2 min read

Boris Johnson has said “black lives matter” amid claims he has stayed silent on police brutality protests in the US following the killing of George Floyd.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said at Prime Minister’s Questions that in the days since Floyd’s death, “the UK government has not even offered words, not expressed that pain, it has shuttered itself in the hope no one would notice”.

Blackford asked the PM if he had raised concerns with Donald Trump and called for him “at the very least” to “say it now: black lives matter”.

Johnson responded: “Of course black lives matter and I totally understand the anger, the grief, that is felt not just in America but around the world and in our country as well.

“I also support the right to protest. The only point I would make is that protests should be carried out lawfully and in this country, protests should be carried out in accordance with our rules on social distancing.”

Floyd, 46, a black man, died in the city of Minneapolis last Monday after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

His death has sparked protests in towns and cities across the US and overseas – including London.

Responding to Johnson, Blackford then criticised the PM for not saying what discussions he has had with “his friend” Trump.

Boris Johnson at PMQs on Wednesday. (Parliamentlive.tv)
Boris Johnson said 'black lives matter' at PMQs on Wednesday. (Parliamentlive.tv)

“It would be nothing short of hypocrisy if we were to turn a blind eye to events unfolding in the US,” he added.

The exchange came after chief constables from across the UK issued a joint statement saying they “stand alongside all those across the globe who are appalled and horrified” at Floyd’s killing.

They urged people who want to make their voices heard to be aware that “coronavirus remains a deadly disease and there are still restrictions in place to prevent its spread, which include not gathering outside in groups of more than six people”.

It comes as a number of police officers were on duty at London’s Hyde Park as protesters began to gather for another demonstration in the capital.

Read more: Tory MP refuses to condemn Trump's response to Floyd protesters

Ahead of the protest, both standard officers and liaison officers were seen speaking to protesters, with additional officers on horseback.

Protest organisers reminded attendees to social distance and were seen handing out gloves.