Hundreds of demonstrators gathered to mark Afrikan Emancipation Day on Saturday.
Large crowds gathered in Brixton to commemorate the passing of the 1833 Abolition of Slavery Act – the law that abolished slavery in most parts of the British Empire.
Many protesters held signs saying “Remember the 400” – a movement marking the day in 1619 when the first Africans arrived in Virginia, USA, as slaves.
Demonstrators chanted as they called for reparations to be made to African nations and descendants of slaves.
Slave owners were given more than £20 million in compensation after the slave trade was semi-abolished – but nothing was paid to the people who had been enslaved for decades.
Police imposed restrictions on Brixton before the event after they were alerted of demonstrators’ intention to block the A23 along Brixton Road and Brixton Hill.
The event brought together a coalition of different groups – including Stop The Maangamizi: We Charge Genocide/Ecocide, the Afrikan Emancipation Day Reparations March Committee, the Rhodes Must Fall Oxford campaigners and Extinction Rebellion. It comes after millions of people across the world joined Black Lives Matter protests following the death of George Floyd in May.
Sections of the march began in Clapham High Street and moved to Brixton, then on to nearby Max Roach Park.
They listened to speeches and music and observed a three-minute silence at the annual event, which is in its seventh year.
Three people were arrested at the event, including one man on suspicion of affray and another man on suspicion of assaulting an emergency worker.
A woman also was arrested on suspicion of racially aggravated assault.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor, in charge of the operation, said: “The gatherings today have been largely peaceful and we thank our communities for working with us to ensure the voices of the community could be heard safely and done so responsibly to ensure the safety of all.”
Conditions were imposed on the demonstrations within Windrush Square and outside Brixton Police Station, stipulating it should not go into nearby roads and must finish by 8pm. The Metropolitan Police said the assembly had more than 30 people so was in breach of the current regulations and was not authorised by police.
Among those taking part were Forever Family Force, which wore all black and stab-proof vests. Its social media pages say it is “united in building a self-sufficient and stable community” and will create “a hub and avenues for funding, business start-ups, grants and investing”.
But Nigel Farage, the Brexit Party leader, commented: “Terrifying scenes in Brixton today.
“A paramilitary-style force marching in the streets.
“This is what the BLM movement wanted from the start and it will divide our society like never before.”
But Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party and Lambeth’s opposition leader, replied: “You are just trying to create division.
“But these people in Brixton today know that love and justice will conquer the fear and hate that you peddle.
“Hope is what people need right now and they are showing the pathway toward it.”
Pictured top: Protesters at the Afrikan Emancipation Day on Saturday
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