Council Leader thanks protesters following peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstration

Sir Richard Leese's statement following the peaceful Black Lives Matter protest in the city centre today.

Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: "I would like to thank the protesters for their exemplary behaviour during the Black Lives Matter protests today, which remained calm and peaceful throughout.

"The discrimination and victimisation of anyone because of their race is an abhorrence that has no place in our world, and any trace of bigotry must be removed from our society. For this reason, Manchester has always and will always support the right to peaceful protest as the foundation of a fair and just society. 

"We must stand in solidarity beside those who face discrimination and victimisation, be vocal and create a platform for their voice to be heard. On Tuesday this week we lit Wythenshawe Hall in purple, and Central Library on Friday night, to give visibility to this solidarity. 

"In the wake of Covid-19, however, it would be irresponsible not to urge caution around mass demonstrations at this time. A right to protest should always be protected, as should our people’s health. We remain in a precarious position as we continue the fight against Coronavirus, the pandemic is not over, and social distancing remains vital.

"I understand the fire that has been lit in the hearts of Manchester residents since the death of George Floyd - and with good reason. It is extremely difficult to maintain social distancing and keep a large gathering of people safe in the city centre. The R number, the reproduction rate for Covid-19, is back above one, so use your voice, but do so safely."

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