AROUND two hundred people gathered in Prestwich yesterday to stage a Black Lives Matter protest.

Anti-racism campaigners holding banners and signs chanted "no justice, no peace" and "justice for George" as they rallied at the Longfield Centre, off Bury New Road.

Then, shortly after 6pm, the crowd in unison took a knee in profound silence.

The protest was organised in the wake of the death of George Floyd ­— a black man living in the United States who died in police custody ­— and emulated demonstrations held around the UK and the world.

Mikhil Karnik, one of the protest's organisers, from Prestwich, said he was very happy with the "amazing turn out", and the safe, socially distanced manner in which the demonstration was conducted.

He added: "Racism is institutional in the UK and so it touches each and every one of us.

"This is one protest out of many that have taken place in hundreds of towns and cities in the UK and it is a spontaneous demand for change.

"To me it shows and offers a glimpse of a different world."

People of all ages and from all walks of life made up the large crowd of Black Lives Matter supporters which gathered in the town.

Alongside campaigners from across Bury and Greater Manchester, there were demonstrators from around the world, including from Chicago, Illinois; and members of the Native American community.

Prestwich and Whitefield Guide: Elizabeth Cameron, with her daughters, Lauren and Georgina, her daughter's partner Pedro, and grandson Nathaniel, at the Black Lives Matter protest in PrestwichElizabeth Cameron, with her daughters, Lauren and Georgina, her daughter's partner Pedro, and grandson Nathaniel, at the Black Lives Matter protest in Prestwich

Among those who joined the protest was Elizabeth Cameron, a life-long Prestwich resident, who attended with her daughters, Lauren and Georgina, her daughter's partner Pedro, and grandson Nathaniel.

She said: "To see people in my home town come here today, it means so much.

"It is so important to realise that with what happened with George Floyd it has really been a call to bring attention to what is going on.

"It is not just one incident, and there are many many deaths in police custody that have happened here in the UK.

"Police treatment of black boys is tough and scary, and we need to bring attention to that."

Prestwich and Whitefield Guide: Black Lives Matters supporters attended protest at the Longfield Centre, Prestwich.Black Lives Matters supporters attended protest at the Longfield Centre, Prestwich.

Speaking to Bury Times Ms Cameron explained how she felt racism in the UK is experienced throughout society, such as in work places, education and the health service.

She said: "It is not just about name calling. It has impacted every area of my life.

"We have had all these things happen to us and we have had enough. We can't take it any more.

"This is our chance to express something that we have been holding inside for a long time."

Prestwich and Whitefield Guide: Black Lives Matters supporters attended protest at the Longfield Centre, Prestwich.Black Lives Matters supporters attended protest at the Longfield Centre, Prestwich.

Ms Cameron also described how the increased profile of the Black Lives Matter movement has opened up dialogues among colleagues about racism and how to confront it.

She said: "This is the first time I have had discussions about what we have really been going through and what we want to change.

"That's never happened in my 30 years at work."

Prestwich and Whitefield Guide: Black Lives Matters supporters attended protest at the Longfield Centre, Prestwich.Black Lives Matters supporters attended protest at the Longfield Centre, Prestwich.

Although the vast majority of attendees yesterday were Black Lives Matters supporters, there was, however, a handful of people who had come to oppose the rally.

Rita Ricketts, from Bolton, said she believed Black Lives Matter was causing "more division" and thought people should instead be fighting against police brutality more broadly.

She added that she felt the protest movement is allowing people to "destroy" statues, and argued that "history is history".