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John Boyega in powerful address to thousands at rally for George Floyd

Taking the lead: Actor John Boyega speaks to the crowd through a megaphone PICTURE: GETTY

STAR WARS actor John Boyega made an emotional speech to a crowd of thousands in London yesterday protesting over the death of George Floyd.

He told the huge but peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstration in Hyde Park that he was ‘speaking to you from my heart’ as he referred to the deaths of two other black Americans who died controversially, along with the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence in London in 1993.

We’re with you: Police ‘take a knee’ in front of demonstrators PICTURE: WENN

Sandra Bland, 28, died in police custody in Texas following a traffic stop, while Trayvon Martin was shot and killed, aged 17, by a neighbourhood watch volunteer in Florida. Both deaths sparked protests across the US at the time.

Boyega, 28, told the crowd: ‘I don’t know if I’m going to have a career after this, but f*** that. I need you to understand how painful this s*** is.

Mark of respect: A socially-distanced handshake between a policeman and a protester PICTURE: REUTERS

‘I need you to understand how painful it is to be reminded every day that your race means nothing and that isn’t the case any more, that was never the case any more.’

The officers had no riot shields or masks and a group of policemen ‘took the knee’ in front of the crowd, a symbol of protest against police brutality in the US.

Eloquent: Protesters’ placards call for end to violence PICTURE: GETTY

One officer was spotted swapping a socially-distanced handshake. Some protesters held signs calling for justice for Belly Mujinga, the Victoria railway station worker who died after allegedly having been spat at in the face.

Scuffles later broke out between the police and a few protesters when the rally moved to Westminster.

Shoulder to shoulder: The crowd demands justice at the rally PICTURE: GETTY

Urging the Hyde Park crowd to remain peaceful, Boyega said: ‘It is very, very important we keep control of this moment. That we make this as peaceful and as organised as possible. Because they want us to mess up, they want us to be disorganised, but not today.’

Addressing the parents present, Boyega said it was a day for them to remind their children ‘that we are dedicated and this is a lifelong dedication’.

Flashpoint: Police scuffle with two demonstrators near Downing Street PICTURE: GETTY

He added: ‘Some of you are artists, some of you are bankers, some of you are lawyers, some of you own shop stores.

‘You are important, your individual power, your individual right is very, very important, we can all join together to make this a better world.’

During prime minister’s questions, Boris Johnson described Mr Floyd’s death as ‘inexcusable’ and said ‘of course black lives matter’. He faces calls to review sales of riot control equipment to the US.