Tyne & Wear

Newcastle Black Lives Matter protest heckled by counter-demonstrators

Demonstrators at a Black Lives Matter protest by Grey's Monument in Newcastle Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Black Lives Matter protesters congregated on Grey Street in Newcastle

Demonstrators supporting the Black Lives Matter (BLM) anti-racism movement have been heckled by a large counter-protest at a rally in Newcastle.

Bottles and flares were thrown during the protest at Grey's Monument - one of a number staged around the country.

BLM supporter Isra Mohammed said it was important to send the message that "it's not really white against black, it's everyone against racists".

Northumbria Police formed a barrier to keep the two factions apart.

The force said it had a "large, proportionate policing response to facilitate the protests and ensure they go smoothly".

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption The crowds were joined by people protesting against the Black Lives Matter demonstration

A crowd of about 250 people initially gathered around Grey's Monument facing a smaller number of BLM protestors on Grey Street.

But, by the time the anti-racism protest officially started at noon, the two groups were largely equal in size.

Some protestors opposing the BLM supporters said the anti-racists were "brainwashed hypocrites".

Some had brought Union Jacks and St George Cross flags and said they were "defending" the city and Earl Grey's statue.

War veterans were among the crowd gathered around a memorial in nearby Old Eldon Square, saying they were there to protect it.

Image copyright Owen Humphreys/PA
Image caption Police formed a barrier between protestors and counter protestors

Yunus Bakhsh from North East Against Racism said: "Clearly people on the far right have been fed a diet that people were going to be tearing down monuments and defacing war memorials which is absolute nonsense.

"We're not looking to have a confrontation with them; we're here to make our point about Black Lives Matter and about the endemic racism that we're seeing in society."

Image caption Counter protestors initially outnumbered those supporting BLM

The North East branch of the Stand Up To Racism group said many of its members were staying away from the demonstration for safety reasons.

In a Facebook post, it said: "Many of our members are shielding, have caring responsibilities, are health and social care workers, live outside of Newcastle or have underlying health conditions."

It advised people taking part to follow instructions regarding social distancing and wearing face coverings.

Image caption Northumbria Police said it had plans in place "to facilitate peaceful protest"

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