Police have confirmed no arrests were made as two Black Lives Matter protests in Staffordshire passed off peacefully.
Around 600 anti-racism campaigners gathered in Stafford’s Market Square this afternoon (June 13).
A small group of counter-protesters also attended.
But unlike elsewhere in the country where ugly scenes have broken out, the Stafford event – and a smaller one held in Leek – were both trouble-free.
Now the police have thanked the placard-waving protesters for behaving responsibly.
A Staffordshire Police spokesman said: “Approximately 600 people attended the protests in Stafford.
“We want to thank the people in attendance for the peaceful nature of the protests.
“Local officers worked with organisers, partners and the local community to ensure things remained peaceful and respectful.
“We understand that people want to make their voices heard in the fight against racism and inequality with Black Lives Matter and we are encouraging people to consider alternative ways to gathering on the streets which carries a risk of spreading the virus to family and friends.”
A number of speeches were held and members of the crowd were invited to have their own say, with several taking the opportunity to speak.
At one point everyone in town centre was asked to go to one knee, where they remained in silence for eight minutes and 46 seconds – the length of time a police officer lent on George Floyd’s neck before he died in Minneapolis.
The event in Stafford was organised by a group of friends from the town, with no official connection with the global Black Lives Matter movement.
Organiser Faith Gunasekera, aged 21, of Stafford, said: “I think it’s been amazing. It has been very peaceful, very successful and I think it sent a powerful message.
“I heard someone say that there were 900 people there. I really didn’t expect that many to come. “People are showing solidarity. For many years black people have had to stand alone. Now many people are joining them.”
Georgia O’Brien, aged 21, of Stafford, said: “We are just so proud of Stafford.”
Meanwhile, violence erupted elsewhere in the country including in London, Bolton, Newcastle and Bristol.