June 4, 2020 / 8:52 PM / a month ago

Anti-racism protest targets British PM Johnson's aide Cummings

FILE PHOTO: Dominic Cummings, special advisor for Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives in Downing Street, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), London, Britain, June 4, 2020. REUTERS/John Sibley

LONDON (Reuters) - A small group of protesters chanting “Black Lives Matter” gathered on Thursday outside the London home of Dominic Cummings, a close aide to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the centre of a scandal that has damaged the government.

Anti-racism protests have taken place in Britain in recent days, in solidarity with U.S. demonstrations sparked by the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck.

The brief protest outside Cummings’s home involved about two dozen protesters who lay on the road and chanted slogans. One of them used a megaphone to denounce the government’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

Britain has the worst death toll from the virus in Europe, and people from ethnic minorities have been disproportionately affected. Black and Asian people in England are up to 50% more likely to die after becoming infected with COVID-19.

Cummings resisted intense pressure to resign, including from within the ruling Conservative Party, after revelations in late May that he had travelled 250 miles from London with his wife and son at the height of the coronavirus lockdown.

Johnson, who relies heavily on Cummings, denied his adviser had broken the rules being imposed on the rest of society, but polls have shown a sharp fall in confidence in the government’s handling of the epidemic since the scandal.

The protest outside the aide’s home was very small in comparison with a demonstration in central London the previous day, in which tens of thousands of people marched against racism.

Reporting by Francis Maguire, writing by Estelle Shirbon, editing by David Milliken

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