Socialist Worker

‘We can’t wait—we need to fight now’ say Black Lives Matter protesters in London

by Sophie Squire
Issue No. 2707

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The London protest was urgent and angry  (Pic: Guy Smallman)


The movement against police brutality burst onto the streets of Britain on Sunday, as at least 5,000 people marched through central London declaring that Black Lives Matter.

It followed a fifth night of widespread unrest in the US, as dozens of bitterly angry protests erupted to demand justice for George Floyd. 

George was killed by Derek Chauvin, a cop who knelt on his neck for just under nine minutes. His death has sparked inspirational resisitance over police violence and institutional racism.

A furious protest, organised at a day’s notice, snaked its way through central London and stopped at the US embassy. 

At least 5,000 marched

At least 5,000 marched (Pic: Guy Smallman)


 

Chants of “Say his name—George Floyd” and “Black Lives Matter” rang out as protesters occupied roads and stopped traffic.

Calvin told Socialist Worker is was “urgent” to come out on the streets. 

“We can’t wait to start in 24 hours and we can’t start when the lockdown is over—we need to fight now,” he told Socialist Worker. 

Activists held open mic sessions on megaphones, and some protesters spoke of the need to keep on fighting, despite the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Many activists held handwritten placards and wore face masks. And a deep anger at the rotten nature of racism within society ran through the crowd. 

“We have seen so many times that justice isn’t done,” said Calvin. 

“The violence against black people by the police doesn’t stop. That’s why people are rioting in the US—because they have tried everything else.”

Protester Jade said, “This isn’t a black and white issue. The issue is the police don’t look after us. They serve the state and private property.”

Matched

Determined resistance by protesters is being matched by the tear gas and grenades of the US police force. 

In some US cities, police forces and state governments are ramping up efforts to crush the movement. 

In Minneapolis, the city where George was killed, the National Guard was deployed in an attempt to stop people taking to the streets. 

But protesters defied curfews and continued to demand justice—chants of “I can’t breathe” were heard in many cities across the country. 

In New York, over 600 people have been arrested over the five nights. A video widely shared on social media shows a police car mowing through a crowd of anti-racists. 

In La Mesa, a suburb of San Diego, activists burnt two banks to the ground and police fired teargas to try and break apart crowds. 

Local resident Ally Kaiahua said, “People are hating and they’re angry and they’re trying to be heard because there’s no other way to get anyone’s attention.

“It’s unfortunate but this has been part of our history and how things get done because they don’t listen any other way.”

President Donald Trump is trying to find new scapegoats to attack as well as urging cops to assault demonstrators.

He told reporters on Saturday that “we have our military ready, willing and able if they ever want to call our military”.

“We can have troops on the ground very quickly. They have to be tough, strong and respected,” Trump said.

“Because these people, this Antifa, there’s a lot of radical left bad people, and they’ve got to be taught that you can’t do this,” he added.

But there were also reports in the New York Times that as protesters converged on the White House on Friday, the “Secret Service agents abruptly rushed the president to the underground bunker used in the past during terrorist attacks".

Stand Up To Racism day of action, Justice for George Floyd, Wed 3 June, details here

Protests and social distance

The protests demanding justice for George Floyd are magnificent. 

Thousands turned out in central London at very short notice. 

Tens of thousands have protested across the US and the world.

Some opponents of the protests have attacked them for a lack of social distancing as the coronavirus pandemic rages. But there are also understandable fears among people sympathetic to the protests too.

Governments have left people vulnerable, and black people have disproportionately died.

Socialist Worker is fully in support of the protests. Ideally protesters should take care to keep themselves and others safe, such as by wearing masks and social distancing.

But we should remember that the biggest risk in spreading the virus doesn’t come from people protesting.

It comes from those at the top who put profit before health. 


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