Black Lives Matter vigil in Keel Square passes off peacefully

We’ll be bringing you live updates at the Black Lives Matter movement holds a peaceful vigil in Keel Square, Sunderland.

Thursday, 25th June 2020, 4:39 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th June 2020, 9:29 pm

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement is set to hold a peaceful vigil in Keel Square, Sunderland at 6pm on Thursday, June 25.

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Northumbria Police have issued a Section 14 order on the area, banning any counter protests, though a group has gathered on High Street West.

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Black Lives Matter supporters take a knee in Keel Square in Sunderland during a vigil on June 25

LIVE updates as Black Lives Matter vigil is held in Sunderland

Last updated: Thursday, 25 June, 2020, 18:35

  • Northumbria Police has issued an order banning counter protests in Keel Square
  • A peaceful vigil in support of Black Lives Matter is set to begin at 6pm
  • Attendees have been told they must wear a mask and stay two metres apart from one another
  • The event passed off peacefully with around 60 people in attendance 

Police presence in city centre

Officers can be seen gathering in Keel Square ahead of tonight’s planned vigil. 

Counter protesters banned from Keel Square

Northumbria Police has enforced a Section 14 order on Keel Square which bans any other public assembly, including counter-protests in the interest of public safety.

This comes after violence broke out when Black Lives Matter protesters and counter-demonstrators clashed in Newcastle city centre two weeks ago. 

What do organisers have planned?

Sunderland Unites will lead the event in Keel Square from 6pm this evening. 

Attendees have been told to wear facemasks and maintain social distancing. 

The vigil will see people ’taking the knee’ which has become symbolic of the movement. 

It will feature a minute’s silence in remembrance of James Furlong, David Wails and Joe Ritchie-Bennett, who died in a knife attack in a Reading park on Saturday, which is being classed as an act of terrorism.

Short speeches will be heard, touching on Sunderland’s own Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) community will also be heard. 

Counter protesters gather in Sunderland city centre

Counter protesters have started to gather on High Street West in Sunderland city centre, a few hundred yards from Keel Square where Sunderland Unites will hold the planned vigil.

They have signs which read ’All Lives Matter’ and facemasks. 

Minute silence planned to remember victims of Reading terror attack

Tonight’s vigil will also include a minute’s silence in remembrance of James Furlong, David Wails and Joe Ritchie-Bennett, who died in a knife attack in a Reading park on Saturday, organisers say. 

Sunderland Unites setting up in Keel Square

Organisers from Sunderland Unites are setting up floor markings in Keel Square to ensure that those attending can adhere to social distancing.

Anyone attending is also asked to wear a facemask. 

Counter protesters moved on from Keel Square

Sunderland Unites supporters have gathered in Keel Square ahead of the vigil

Around 50+ Black Lives Matters protesters have gathered in Keel Square

So far, around 50-60 people have gathered in Keel Square and are writing encouraging messages on the ground in chalk.

A heavy police presence is in the area with one counter protester already lead away from Keel Square. 

Racism experienced in Sunderland

A woman who lives in Sunderland has shared her experience of racism in the city. 

Rachael Nyazuma said: “As a black person living in Sunderland, sometimes people make monkey chants as I walk along the street.

“It makes you worry about your safety. I have a little girl and I hope she can grow up in an area where everyone is treated equally.”

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