Thousands of protesters are marching through Brighton in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Demonstrators wearing black and holding up signs calling out systemic racism gathered by the city’s famous Palace Pier at midday on Saturday before moving off through the streets.

It comes as the force watchdog the IOPC launched a probe into Sussex Police after three of its officers were filmed pinning down a man – believed to be of BAME descent – shouting ‘I can’t breathe’.

The words were the same ones uttered by black man George Floyd in the US, whose died after police offer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. His death sparked protests around the world and reinvigorated the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. 

Many protesters on Saturday were wearing face masks and had placards with slogans including ‘Decolonise everything’ and ‘Defund the police’.

They set off along the seafront shouting ‘Black lives matter every day’ and ‘UK is not innocent’. As protesters passed the Brighton war memorial they were being serenaded by a string quartet.

The musical tribute is in stark contrast to the protest last month which saw a small group occupy the stone monument amid a heavy police presence.

Hundreds of protesters also marched in London and ‘took a knee’ on Vauxhall Bridge before going to Parliament Square.

Thousands of protesters are marching through Brighton in support of the Black Lives Matter movement

Thousands of protesters are marching through Brighton in support of the Black Lives Matter movement

Demonstrators wearing black and holding up signs calling out systemic racism gathered by the city's famous Palace Pier at midday on Saturday before moving off through the streets

Demonstrators wearing black and holding up signs calling out systemic racism gathered by the city’s famous Palace Pier at midday on Saturday before moving off through the streets

Many are wearing face masks and have placards with slogans including 'Decolonise everything' and 'Defund the police'

Many are wearing face masks and have placards with slogans including ‘Decolonise everything’ and ‘Defund the police’

Gathering in their thousands at The Level, the protesters shouted out in unison: ‘It is our duty to do this every day! It is our duty to fight for racial justice! It is our duty to win! We are stronger together! We are here with love, peace and solidarity! We have nothing to lose – too many have already lost too much!’

The latest protest comes two days after outcry over a video showing a man shouting ‘I can’t breathe’ while being restrained on the ground by three police officers in the city.

Sussex Police said the man, who is believed to be from the BAME community, was arrested and became aggressive towards officers before being placed on the ground.

The incident has been referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

Footage showed him yelling: ‘I can’t breathe. That is my Adam’s apple and you are crushing it’ – but the officer closest to his head repeatedly told him that his arm was on his collarbone.

One protester speaking to the crowds through a megaphone on Saturday addressed the video. She shouted: ‘Sussex Police has recently been filmed using excessive force on a young black man.’ 

It comes as the force watchdog the IOPC launched a probe into Sussex Police after three of its officers were filmed pinning down a man - believed to be of BAME descent - shouting 'I can't breathe', in echoes of the US murder of George Floyd whose death sparked the movement.

It comes as the force watchdog the IOPC launched a probe into Sussex Police after three of its officers were filmed pinning down a man – believed to be of BAME descent – shouting ‘I can’t breathe’, in echoes of the US murder of George Floyd whose death sparked the movement. 

Dozens of protesters held banners aloft as they marched through the streets. One read: 'No one is free when others are oppressed'

Dozens of protesters held banners aloft as they marched through the streets. One read: ‘No one is free when others are oppressed’

They set off along the seafront shouting 'Black lives matter every day' and 'UK is not innocent'. As protesters passed the Brighton war memorial they were being serenaded by a string quartet

They set off along the seafront shouting ‘Black lives matter every day’ and ‘UK is not innocent’. As protesters passed the Brighton war memorial they were being serenaded by a string quartet

The protesters marched through Brighton city centre in opposition to racial discrimination

The protesters marched through Brighton city centre in opposition to racial discrimination

Protesters from a Black Lives Matter rally walk past Vauxhall on their way to Parliament Square, London, today

Protesters from a Black Lives Matter rally walk past Vauxhall on their way to Parliament Square, London, today

Hundreds of protesters take a knee a Vauxhall Bridge in London today on their way to Parliament Square

Hundreds of protesters take a knee a Vauxhall Bridge in London today on their way to Parliament Square

In a statement about the man’s arrest, Sussex Police said: ‘Police officers searching for a vulnerable missing teenager attended an address in Montpelier Road in Brighton at 10.15am on Tuesday 7 July.

‘A resident of the address, a 28-year-old man, refused police entry and was arrested.

‘Police subsequently found the missing 17-year-old young woman hiding at the property and returned them safely home.

‘Once under arrest, the man became aggressive towards officers and was handcuffed and placed on the ground before being transported to custody.

‘We train our officers to protect themselves and others using reasonable force and are reviewing this footage, together with body-worn video captured by the officers of the entire interaction, to identify if any further investigation or learning is required.’

The film was subsequently shared widely on social media.

One witness told the Brighton Argus: ‘I was utterly shocked. I’d never seen anything like this before. Unfortunately I didn’t film the initial arrest. 

‘I couldn’t believe how long they held him down to the ground for, I didn’t understand why they didn’t handcuff him straight away. 

‘He didn’t appear to be resisting and was clearly distressed and in pain, he didn’t seem to be on drugs or drunk.

‘Regardless of the suspected crime, this use of force was unlike anything I had seen before.  It made me feel unbelievably shocked’. 

Last month, more than 10,000 protesters marched through the East Sussex city in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement worldwide.

Some placards read, 'The UK is not innocent', while others claimed, 'White silence is violence'. The crowd of protesters, which was flanked by police, filled the city streets

Some placards read, ‘The UK is not innocent’, while others claimed, ‘White silence is violence’. The crowd of protesters, which was flanked by police, filled the city streets

They set off along the seafront shouting 'Black lives matter every day' and 'UK is not innocent'. As protesters pass the Brighton war memorial they are being serenaded by a string quartet

They set off along the seafront shouting ‘Black lives matter every day’ and ‘UK is not innocent’. As protesters pass the Brighton war memorial they are being serenaded by a string quartet

Gathering in their thousands at The Level, the protesters shouted out in unison: 'It is our duty to do this every day! It is our duty to fight for racial justice! It is our duty to win! We are stronger together! We are here with love, peace and solidarity! We have nothing to lose - too many have already lost too much!'

Gathering in their thousands at The Level, the protesters shouted out in unison: ‘It is our duty to do this every day! It is our duty to fight for racial justice! It is our duty to win! We are stronger together! We are here with love, peace and solidarity! We have nothing to lose – too many have already lost too much!’

There have been calls for the popular seafront resort to become an officially anti-racist city.

Carmen Appich, chair of the council’s tourism, equality, communities and culture committee, said: ‘In the wake of the sickening killing of George Floyd the global calls for change and the impact of Covid-19 on black and ethnic minority people, we made a public pledge to become an anti-racist council.

‘We acknowledge that it is not enough to be non-racist and we must actively use our privilege, position as community leaders and platforms to challenge structural racism and injustice within the council and in the city.’ 

Last month an investigation was launched after a 35-year-old man died in police custody in Devon.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct is looking into the death of Simeon Francis, who was found unresponsive in his cell.

The probe was launched as video footage emerged of him telling officers: ‘I can’t breathe’ in a previous arrest ten months earlier.

The latest protests also come amid renewed scrutiny over the use of stop and search tactics by British police. 

One man wore a multi-coloured costume and had painted his face. He marched alongside some who held banners which read, 'No to racism. No to Boris Johnson'

One man wore a multi-coloured costume and had painted his face. He marched alongside some who held banners which read, ‘No to racism. No to Boris Johnson’ 

The protesters marched up from the sea front and into the city centre as police walked alongside them

The protesters marched up from the sea front and into the city centre as police walked alongside them

A video showed them making their way through Brighton. At one point, they were serenaded by a string quartet

A video showed them making their way through Brighton. At one point, they were serenaded by a string quartet

The police watchdog is to launch an inquiry into racial discrimination in the use of stop and search by forces across England and Wales.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) will look into how stop and search powers are used by police to examine whether there are any patterns of prejudice against ethnic minorities.

The watchdog will use its powers to look into allegations of racism within stop and search, claiming it can ‘drive real change in policing practice’, The Guardian reported. 

Cressida Dick, the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, apologised earlier this week to athlete Bianca Williams, who had been stopped by police with her partner.

The sprinter and Portuguese runner Ricardo dos Santos accused the Met of racial profiling after their car was pulled over and searched on their way home from training.

They were both handcuffed by police and they claimed that since they switched from a Japanese to German car brand they had received more police attention.

Data already shows that people from ethnic minority backgrounds are more likely to be on the receiving end of police powers, with black people nine times more likely to be stopped and searched and are almost eight times as likely to be tasered.

The protest started off at the famous pier. Hundreds of people massed in front of the pier before moving on

The protest started off at the famous pier. Hundreds of people massed in front of the pier before moving on

As the marchers walked past The Level, a few hundred metres from the sea front, a group of violinists played the well-known piece Pachelbel's Canon

As the marchers walked past The Level, a few hundred metres from the sea front, a group of violinists played the well-known piece Pachelbel’s Canon

The musicians continued playing as the marchers walked past in their droves

The musicians continued playing as the marchers walked past in their droves

In the face of allegations of racism police forces have maintained that bias is not why powers are used more often against BAME (black and minority ethnic) people.

As well as looking at stop and search the IOPC will look into whether BAME people are failed by police when they are victims of crime.

The murder of Nicole Smallman, 27, and Bibaa Henry, 46, will be investigated after two officers were arrested after it was alleged that they took selfies with their bodies in the background.

Figures from the Met Police show that less than one per cent of the more than 250 annual complaints about racism are upheld.

Deputy assistant commissioner Amanda Pearson said young black men were more likely to be victims of crime and commit it.

Searches are concentrated in areas where crime is the highest, she told The Guardian: ‘Stop and search is a tool we can use in order to prevent violent crime.

‘When we look at the victims and perpetrators of violent crime they are over-represented by predominantly young black males.’

She added: ‘There [are] areas that we are going into, they are disproportionately more diverse than the other areas in terms of where policing takes place.

‘Therefore stop and search will have a disproportionate effect on the people who are living in those areas.’

Michael Lockwood the Director General of the IPOC said: ‘Evidence of disproportionality in the use of police powers has long been a concern which impacts on confidence in policing, particularly in the BAME communities.

‘But even with the numbers and the statistics, particularly from stop and search data, we still need to better understand the causes and what can and should be done to address this.

‘In the coming months we will be launching race discrimination as a thematic area of focus to establish the trends and patterns which might help drive real change in policing practice.’

He added: ‘Initially we will focus on investigating more cases where there is an indication that disproportionality impacts the BAME community, including stop and search and use of force.

‘We will also be investigating more cases where victims from BAME communities have felt unfairly treated by the police.

‘For example whether the police are treating allegations of hate crime from BAME complainants seriously and where it is alleged the police have not recognised or treated BAME victims of crime as victims.’

‘Our police forces can only police effectively with the trust and confidence of the community they serve. Having independent oversight and an evidence base which helps the police to learn and improve where necessary will help build that community confidence.’

A smaller group of  Black Lives Matter demonstrators also gathered at the U.S. embassy in London

A smaller group of  Black Lives Matter demonstrators also gathered at the U.S. embassy in London 

The demonstrators in London also held banners aloft. One read: 'No pride in the Home Office. End detention now'

The demonstrators in London also held banners aloft. One read: ‘No pride in the Home Office. End detention now’ 



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