A big, young and angry anti-racist demonstration filled the streets of central London on Wednesday.
After months of very little activity during the coronavirus lockdown, it was a breath of fresh air.
And it won huge levels of support from passers-by and drivers as it marched from Hyde Park to Parliament Square.
Belly, a black rail worker, died of coronavirus after being spat on at work. The police have said no further action will be taken over her death.
One of her relatives told the crowd gathered in Hyde Park, “This is a free country but does it look like a free country?
“It’s not right. Let’s get justice.”
Actor John Boyega gave an emotional speech to the crowd. “People need to understand how painful it is to be reminded every day that your life means nothing,” he said.
“We can’t be divided. We can all join together to make this a better world.”
The protest was young and working class. It united black and white people, and a number of Muslim women wearing hijabs joined it.
Protester Christopher told Socialist Worker, “I was sceptical about protests but this is amazing.
“I didn’t expect this many people. There are people from all ages, colours and creeds. It’s definitely having an impact on London.”
Christopher was doubtful about the prospect of getting rid of racism. But he said, “We need change from the top.
“We need people making these arguments at the top, in the board rooms, otherwise these opinions just get ignored.
“But I don’t think the people at the top want change.”
John, another protester, agreed. “I don’t think we’ll get rid of racism in my lifetime,” he told Socialist Worker. “It’s systematic. You can’t follow the rules if you want things to change.”
John said it is “time for change”.
“It’s 2020 and things should be different by now,” he said. “People are going through the same things that people went through hundreds of years ago.”
Protester Liya said it is “so sad” that George Floyd was murdered by cops in the US. But she added, “Things like this do make a difference. Everyone has to be equal.”
Marchers sang, “If they don’t give us justice, then we won’t give them peace,” and chanted, “Being black is not a crime.”
Paris told Socialist Worker she had never been on a demo before. “But as a black woman I have to support what’s going on,” she said.
“We have to do things like this and come together.”
Paola added that white people had to fight racism. “We’ve been doing it for years, it’s about time the world did something.
“People have to call out every racist comment from their friends and family.”
She said everyone has a duty to fight racist attitudes, but also said we have to go further. “There’s a duty on everyone to step up,” she said.
“But we have one system. It doesn’t matter where you live—if I go to the US, it’s the same system. So we have to work on changing it everywhere.”
One placard read, “Revolution is the solution,” while another said, “Rise up.”
There were exuberant scenes as protesters marched through central London. Bus drivers and car drivers honked their horns in support to celebration from the crowd.
Many drivers—black and white—greeted demonstrators with a raised fist in solidarity. Others sat in their cars and clapped, while building workers raised their fists as the march passed.
Protesters kneeled in memory of George Floyd in Parliament Square before large groups blocked roads and marched around central London.
Abdi said he was inspired. “Things are getting worse with racism, there’s a lot that needs to be done for social justice.
“We need to change the system. Here there are so many people from the young generation getting involved. And it’s very mixed—that’s good because this is important for everybody.
“If there’s no justice, there will be no peace.”