Leader of London BLM protests demands meeting with Johnson
By Guy Faulconbridge and Michael Holden
LONDON (Reuters) - A leader of the protests against Black Lives Matter in London on Saturday called for a meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and to replace a political adviser who was chosen to head a new racial inequality commission.
"I've been here every day, I'm the person who leads 20,000 people in every protest," Imarn Ayton, a 29-year-old actress, told Reuters when BLM protesters gathered in Hyde Park before their last march.
"Everyone else seems to be in contact with me, except Boris, so I'd like to have a conversation."
Tens of thousands of people have demonstrated in Minneapolis police custody in Minneapolis in British cities such as the United States and around the world since the death of George Floyd, a black man.
Around 2,000 people took part in Saturday's protests in London, a Reuters reporter estimated. Marchers danced and sang to the rhythm of the drummers as they walked across Parliament to Trafalgar Square.
Protesters marched in other British cities, including Glasgow, where the police detained and dispersed a crowd, presumably including football fans who were at risk of causing trouble.
Ayton said BLM protesters would continue to protest until the government met their demands.
"It's as simple as that. We protest or you listen," she said. "We want equality to be treated fairly - that's all we want and justice for those who have been violated."
Ayton said Johnson's election to chair the new government inequality commission, Munira Mirza, a Downing Street advisor, does not represent the BLM movement and does not believe that Britain has an institutional racism problem.
"Munira Mirza has to go. She's someone who doesn't believe in institutional racism, and that's exactly why we have marched in the past two weeks - to abolish institutional racism," she said.
Johnson should immediately respond to recommendations from previous UK inequality investigations, Ayton said, adding that the Prime Minister had at least heard the protesters' voice.
"I will never know what is in his heart. What I know is that he answered. So I want to continue this conversation," she said.
Johnson's office on Downing Street made no comment on Ayton's demands.
There were violent clashes in London last weekend following protests by anti-racism supporters and a group of military veterans, football fans and far-right supporters who said they wanted to protect statues of historical figures from vandalism.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and Michael Holden; writing by William Schomberg; editing by Giles Elgood and Frances Kerry)
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