Socialist Worker

Thousands across Britain take the knee in solidarity with George Floyd

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2708

A section of the 500-strong crowd takes the knee outside Hackney town hall in east London

A section of the 500-strong crowd takes the knee outside Hackney town hall in east London (Pic: Socialist Worker)


People across Britain “took the knee” at 6pm on Wednesday to protest against the police murder of George Floyd.

Thousands took part in a national day of action called by Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) in solidarity with the uprisings and protests in the US. 

More than 800 people marched through the Northampton in a protest organised by the local SUTR and Race Equality Commission groups. They chanted, “Say his name—George Floyd,” and, “End police brutality.” 

Gordon White from SUTR says that it was the “biggest demonstration in Northampton has seen for years”. “It was young and multiracial,” he said. “People felt the anger and went for it. 

“Young people led it and we marched around the town.” 

Protest in Lewisham

Protest in Lewisham (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Around 500 protested outside Lewisham police station in south east London. Harold Wilson from SUTR says there’s a lot of anger after a video showed a local woman shouting, "I can’t breathe", as she was restrained by cops last month. 

“That hasn’t gone away,” he said. “That’s a live issue in the community—people want to see it resolved.”

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A few hundred yards down the road, firefighters took the knee in front of the local fire station arch. 

Meanwhile, up to 500 people joined a socially-distanced protest on the steps of Hackney Town Hall in east London.The crowd erupted in cheers when Windrush campaigner Patrick Vernon called on people to “fight the power because Black Lives Matter”. 

Dean Ryan from Hackney SUTR told people not to “kid ourselves that those atrocities don’t happen here”. He said, “It was horrific seeing a video of a police officer putting his knee on a black man’s throat for  nine minutes.

“I can remember in 1993 a black woman called Joy Gardner. Immigration officers barged into her house.

“They used 40 foot of tape to wrap her up—13 foot of that tape was wrapped around her face and she died. 

“She died and unsurprisingly they said she had preexisting conditions—where have we heard this before.”

Over 50 people gathered outside Stratford town hall in a protest organised by the local SUTR group and trades union council. Samantha told Socialist Worker, “It is really important to have a local response. 

“Its good to show solidarity with the US, but we also need to protest about the fact that racist killings go on by the police in Britain as well.” 

Action in Tooting

Action in Tooting (Pic: Ben Windsor)


SUTR locally and nationally worked hard to ensure its protests were socially-distanced and safe during the coronavirus crisis.

Around 500 people protested in Lancaster There were big cheers when SUTR’s Eugene quoted US revolutionary Angela Davis who said, “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.”

“And we cannot tolerate black people being murdered by the police,” Eugene said. “Whether it is in America, or in Britain, or anywhere else around the world—and that’s why we are here tonight.

“We are going to stand up and say we will not tolerate black people being killed and murdered.” 

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The crowd responded with chants of “Black Lives Matter”. 

Meanwhile, in Brixton, south London, people took the knee on Windrush Square.They were joined a by a group of FBU firefighters’ union members who came with their uniforms. 

And earlier in the day around 300 people had joined a protesting in Tooting, south London. 

There were powerful protests in both Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Other protests saw 150 people in Harlow, 70 in Altab Ali Park in Tower Hamlets, east London, 100 in Portsmouth, 80 in Birmingham, 60 in Chesterfield, 50 in Abergavenny and 20 in Wakefield in West Yorkshire. 

In Neath in South Wales, supporters of SUTR took the knee in the town centre. It followed a Black Lives Matter rally on Museum Green in the neighbouring city of Swansea earlier this week. 

SUTR is calling further socially-distanced events soon, and an online rally on Sunday. For updates go here

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