MORE than 10,000 people filled the streets to show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Turnout surpassed all expectations in Brighton and Hove as the protesters marched through the city centre for almost five hours.

It was initially thought that just over 1,000 people would be taking part in Saturday’s demonstration, one of many taking place across the world following the death of George Floyd in the US late last month.

The Argus:

However, it soon became apparent by the number of protesters gathered at 1pm at the starting point, Madeira Drive, that turnout far exceeded previous estimations.

In a statement issued after the march, Sussex Police said more than 10,000 attended the Black Lives Matter protest, which passed off “peacefully”.

A spokeswoman for the force said there had been no arrests.

The Argus:

However, the force is investigating an assault on a man in North Street at about 2.30pm.

Tempers began to flare as the protest, which started on the seafront, walked past the Old Steine war memorial on its way to The Level park.

A group of about 40 people, some of whom had served as army infantry, had gathered at the tribute to fallen soldiers to “protect it from harm”.

The Argus:

Tempers flared when the march reached the monument with insults hurled and a plastic bottle hit a police medic.

However, a protester, who was given a microphone by Sussex Police officers, managed to defuse the tension and keep the march moving to the end destination.

The Argus:

A packed-out crowd then heard speeches from activists at The Level to rounds of applause.

The Argus:

This came as an AA spokesman warned drivers of gridlocked traffic following the day’s demonstration.

Pictures from Edward Street showed a line of a dozen or so buses lined up along the road. The park had cleared out by about 8.30pm after a heavy downpour of rain.

The Argus:

The leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, Nancy Platts, joined the protesters in the afternoon. She said: “It was very moving and very powerful. A peaceful and respectful event.”

The protest was one of a number of demonstrations taking place across the world.

George Floyd, an unarmed black man, died while being restrained by a Minneapolis police officer. He pleaded for air as the officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes.

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This sparked a surge of support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

ARGUS reporter Jody Doherty-Cove covered the Black Lives Matter march from start to finish on Saturday, today he provides a first-hand account of watching the thousands protest.

WHILE walking along the seafront on my way to the march, it became clear there were going to be far more protesters than initially expected.

Groups holding placards lined the road as they made their way to the meeting point at Madeira Drive for 1pm.

Once there, the scale of the protest set to unfold became apparent.

The Argus:

Thousands of people dressed in black stretched from the Brighton Palace Pier to as far as the eye could see.

Near the pier, I bumped into Activist Momma Cherri, who gave a passionate and fiery speech outside Brighton Police Station at a previous Brighton demonstration.

Wearing an outfit emblazoned with the names of black men who have died in police custody, she said: “I’m very excited and happy to see that it hasn’t died down.

The Argus:

“I’m even more excited as I feel that the message is being delivered.”

A separate, silent protest was held with people standing in uniform along Madeira Drive at two-metre intervals, shortly before the mass of people turned up.

The pictures of this separate protest have been widely shared online.

The Argus:

As the 10,000-strong protest prepared to head-off on their route along the seafront road, another group formed outside the war memorial at the Old Steine.

The group of about 40, some wearing army clothing, said they were there to protect the tribute to fallen soldiers.

They told me they had seen news reports of attacks on memorials, including the Cenotaph in London, and were worried similar incidents were set to unfold in Brighton.

I spoke to Kieran Perkins and Jordan Dale, who have served as infantry soldiers.

The Argus:

Mr Perkins said: “We have seen in other places that these war memorials are being vandalised and we don’t want that to happen.

“We are not here to be against the protest, we are here to support the police and make sure nothing happens.”

Mr Dale said: “None of us are against what they are doing. We just don’t agree with defacing war memorials.”

After hearing the rallying cries of activists beginning their march, I left the group, who were now surrounded by police.

The Argus:

The decided route was to walk along the seafront to West Street, then walk up the city centre road before turning down North Street.

While marching, I spoke to protesters Sabrina Curpanen and Marina Lamas, who called for black history to be taught in schools.

Ms Curpanen said: “We are trying to bring an end to systematic racism, meaningful change.

The Argus:

“We are smart enough to know that this is not going to end in our lifetime.

“We are calling for black history to be taught in schools - the ugly side.”

Thousands chanted George Floyd’s name while the peaceful protesters marched near the clock tower.

Some residents left their homes to watch the protest pass before them.

Tensions arose when the protest reached the war memorial statue where Mr Perkins and Mr Dale were stationed.

The Argus:

The march came to a complete stop as protesters began to chant “racists” and “scum”, some of whom made gestures.

Sussex Police officers quickly intervened after individuals from both sides of the conflict tried to get to the other side.

A police perimeter was set up around the memorial as protesters began to circle the monument.

The Argus:

Some of those “protecting” the memorial had cans of larger in their hands.

In the commotion, a police medic was hit with a plastic water bottle as insults were hurled.

It was around this point that one man on the march, Bobby Brown, stepped up to deliver a message to his fellow protesters.

The Argus:

With the aid of a police microphone given to him by a quick-thinking officer, he pleaded with protesters from atop a police van.

“Don’t waste your energy here,” Mr Brown said.

“We are not here to be provoked.”

The Argus:

His efforts worked and the march soon began moving again.

He even took the time to speak with those on the memorial to ease concerns that the monument was to be targeted.

While walking the final stretch to The Level park, I spoke with protester Vanessa Monteiro, who said: “This is about the movement and people starting to have difficult conversations.

The Argus:

“I expected a lot of people today, but I didn’t expect this many.

“It’s amazing that so many people are standing up for the black community.”

The poignant moment of the march came at the final destination.

The scale and size of the march was revealed by the number of people who had gathered at The Level to hear speeches from black activists.

Pictures from this momentous occasion must surely serve as a reminder of the widespread support of the Black Lives Matter cause.

The Argus:

Police maintained distance and watched from afar as protesters slowly emptied the park over the next few hours.

One young man was going around the park with a black sack picking up rubbish and asking people for their litter as the bins had been filled up.

The Argus:

At about 8pm, a brief rain shower cleared out the last of the protesters who ran out of the park for cover.

The police later confirmed that more than 10,000 people had marched in the city, which makes it even more impressive that not a single arrest was deemed necessary.