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‘It went as well as we could have hoped’ says police chief on Black Lives Matter protests

PUBLISHED: 20:56 06 June 2020 | UPDATED: 20:56 06 June 2020

New assistant chief constable Rob Jones. Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

New assistant chief constable Rob Jones. Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

Archant

A senior police officer has said the Black Lives Matters protest went ‘as well as we could have hoped’, despite a group breaking away to march through the town centre.

Hundreds of people attended the Black Lives Matter protest in Christchurch Park, Ipswich on Saturday. Picture: IAN BURTHundreds of people attended the Black Lives Matter protest in Christchurch Park, Ipswich on Saturday. Picture: IAN BURT

Hundreds of people gathered in Christchurch Park in Ipswich on Saturday to show their support for the movement following the death of unarmed George Floyd in America.

Despite a group of protesters leaving the park to march through Ipswich following a number of speeches, Suffolk Constabulary’s Assistant Chief Constable Rob Jones said the demonstration went well.

He said: “It’s been really good natured.

“Generally they have been respecting social distancing and wearing face masks.

The Black Lives Matter protest in Christchurch Park, Ipswich was peaceful and protesters showed signs and placards during the demonstration. Picture: IAN BURTThe Black Lives Matter protest in Christchurch Park, Ipswich was peaceful and protesters showed signs and placards during the demonstration. Picture: IAN BURT

“We have policed very lightly and used the professional police liaison team who are used to engaging in this sort of way.

“One thing to mention is that after the speeches finished a group of 100 or 200 did do a march very peacefully around the town centre.

“That isn’t unusual and has happened across different parts of the UK.”

MORE: ‘It’s time for everyone to educate themselves’ say protestors in Ipswich

He continued: “It was really well organised and people were clearly out to show solidarity but also to respect public health.”

Hundreds of people attended the Black Lives Matter protest in Christchurch Park, Ipswich on Saturday. Picture: IAN BURTHundreds of people attended the Black Lives Matter protest in Christchurch Park, Ipswich on Saturday. Picture: IAN BURT

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There were no arrests related to the protest throughout the day and no fixed penalty notices were handed out either.

The assistant chief constable did however advise that larger group gatherings were still at risk of spreading coronavirus.

He said: “I think I should also stress that taking part in gatherings of over six people is more dangerous to the public than not.

Hundreds of people attended the Black Lives Matter protest in Christchurch Park, Ipswich on Saturday. Picture: IAN BURTHundreds of people attended the Black Lives Matter protest in Christchurch Park, Ipswich on Saturday. Picture: IAN BURT

“So even that type of gathering where people kept their distance, does raise risk.

“Even though it is unlawful according to legislation we decided to allow it, as did many police forces across the UK.”

The senior police boss also commended the behaviour of the protestors who, in contrast with certain areas of the country, worked well with officers who were on scene.

“The organisers really worked with us,” he added.

“It was a really good partnership and it was thoughtfully done and so from a policing point of view I was really happy with the way those relationships went.

“I think it’s interesting that around the country there have been some serious incidents and some have been aimed at police officers, for instance in the West Midlands it has become quite confrontational.

“I’m really pleased in Suffolk it didn’t and I hope that relationship will continue.

“In Suffolk it went as well as we could have hoped.”


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