A largely peaceful Black Lives Matter protest took place in central London on Wednesday as tens of thousands of protestors gathered to voice their concerns about racial inequality and police violence towards BAME people.
The protest started in Hyde Park with enormous crowds who heard Star Wars actor John Boyega, from Peckham, make an impassioned speech to his fellow protestors.
“I need everyone to understand how painful it is to be reminded everyday that your race means nothing… it is very very important that we take control of this moment and make this as peaceful as possible,” he said.
Protestors then took to the streets and marched for two hours before they arrived at Parliament Square where they pitched up for the remainder of the day.
The protests came a week after George Floyd, a black man, was killed by police in the USA. The march was in solidarity with protests taking place across the USA but also highlighted the history of black people being mistreated by police in the UK.
Many references were made to Mark Duggan, a black man who was killed by police officers in Tottenham in 2011 which sparked days of rioting across the UK.
A number of skirmishes broke out with police, who appeared desperate to avoid similar scenes that have been witnessed in the USA, and at times looked confused and stranded.
Twice the protest threatened to boil over as protestors lobbed objects at police who had their batons drawn as they retreated but each time protestors pleading for peace won their cases and the tensions subsided.
The protests came on the same day that a Guardian investigation found that the Met are more than twice as likely to fine BAME people when enforcing lockdown laws and a day after a Public Health England report said BAME people had disproportionately died from COVID-19.
In April it was found that the Met had increased their rates of stop and searches by 50 per cent on the year before, which also disproportionately affects BAME people.
Aba Thanki, 18, from Peckham, organised the UK’s first protest in response to George Floyd’s death last Saturday with a march through Peckham and Peckham Rye Park.
“It starts with community,” she said. “People that live in Peckham now turn a blind eye when they see racism on the street.
“In Peckham which has greatly been gentrified. We were standing in solidarity with those involved in events in the USA but were also reflecting and remembering our own injustices within this British judicial and police system.
“We need people that actually live in the area to stand with us in solidarity. We’ve got a big blalck culture in South London The only way we can get through this is if we actively do something within our community. It always starts with your community.
“Make your community like a community, speak to your neighbours and make spaces black spaces. Places like Peckahm and Brixton have become gentrifiers on one end and locals on the other. We need everyone to mix with each other and become a community.”
Lambeth council also
Lambeth Council passed an emergency motion in support of Black Lives Matter.
The Labour Leader of Lambeth Council, Cllr Jack Hopkins, said: “Lambeth’s town hall was lit up last night in recognition of these challenges and in memory of George Floyd, and I wrote to all residents today on this issue. I am pleased that we’ve been able to work together with the opposition on our emergency motion on this matter, a motion that states unequivocally: Black Lives Matter.
“We are a council, a borough and a community that believes in justice. The death of Mr Floyd highlights the huge injustices faced by Black communities in the US, and we want to demonstrate our rejection of all such discrimination here in our part of London. We stand with the Mayor of Minneapolis Jacob Frey and the people of the city during these difficult days.”
Hundreds of people ‘took the knee’ outside Croydon Town Hall in a moving protest this morning in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
Protests have been taking place across the world in response to the death of George Floyd, the 46-year-old black American who died while being arrested by police outside a shop in Minneapolis on May 25.
The white police officer who knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes has since been sacked and charged with murder.
On Thursday morning (June 4) a large crowd gathered in Croydon where they knelt for eight minutes and 46 seconds the amount of time the police officer held his knee on Mr Floyd’s neck.
‘Taking a knee’ was a protest staged by American football star Colin Kaepernick in 2016 that has become synonymous with the Black Lives Matter movement.
The Croydon show of solidarity was organised by community activist Anthony King who only came up with the idea the evening before.
Despite the quick turnaround he estimates nearly 1,000 people were there.
Mr King said: “It was very moving, when you’ve got 1,000 people standing in solidarity and saying black lives matter.
“And to be down on one knee for eight minutes and 46 seconds to identify with the feeling that George Floyd would have had.”
And to those who see the protests as a solely American issue, Mr King says we need to address racism in our own country.
“Racism has been in this country for years, it hasn’t changed, just the way it is displayed has,” he said.
“It is systematic and institutional. Some would argue that we are seeing racism through Covid-19 with so many BAME people on the frontline and being more affected.
“My advice to all is to show solidarity- we all want to be treated equally, we just want equality.”
Faith leaders and politicians joined residents at the protest.
Croydon Council leader Tony Newman said: “In Croydon we celebrate our borough’s diversity, but we need to do more and as the horrific murder of George Floyd has reinforced alongside the positive Black Lives Matter campaign, now is the time to act.”
And on Tuesday night the town hall was one of many across the capital to be lit up purple to honour George Floyd.
Croydon Council’s BAME champion, Councillor Patsy Cummings, said: “Our message is loud and it is clear, Black Lives Matter across the globe and justice must be served.”
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