Socialist Worker

Wave of protests in Britain say Black Lives Matter

by Sophie Squire
Issue No. 2708

Protesters take the knee in Trafalgar Square, London

Protesters take the knee in Trafalgar Square, London (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Anti-racists are gearing up for a weekend of Black Lives Matter protests in London and others towns and cities in Britain.

More than 300 people marched in central London on Friday in a show of solidarity with the uprisings in the US. 

Around 50 protesters “took the knee” in Trafalgar Square at lunchtime then joined a larger protest in Hyde Park. The united demonstration marched to parliament square chanting, “Back lives matter,” and, “Fuck Boris.” 

Protester Zainab told Socialist Worker, “It is important that young people come to these protests. 

“It’s not like the US but racist stuff happens here—stuff that seems to be always brushed aside.” 

Thousands across Britain take the knee in solidarity with George Floyd
Thousands across Britain take the knee in solidarity with George Floyd
  Read More

Another protester, Aisha, said she came because “enough is enough”. “I personally felt very anxious, but coming out and being with other people feels good,” she told Socialist Worker. 

Many protesters were angry about the racism of the British police from stop and search to deaths in custody. 

Speakers at the rally in parliament square listed the names of black and Asian people who had died after contact with the police. 

One speaker told the crowd how police had manhandled him and threatened arrest unless he unlocked his phone. 

Another addressed the on duty cops at the protest, saying, “For eight years I’ve been harassed by the police. 

“Fuck all these police—we aren’t scared of you.”

Murder 

Protester Benji told Socialist Worker that seeing police murder George Floyd was the final straw for him. “We have to stand up,” he said. “I’ve experienced being talked down to by the police and almost arrested.

“I was brought up in south London and was discriminated against because I’m black.”

This militant movement shows we can fight back
This militant movement shows we can fight back
  Read More

He added, “We aren’t here to enjoy ourselves. We’re not breaking lockdown because we want to have fun. 

“We are desperate for our government to do something—we’re desperate for change.” 

A further protest was set for 1pm in parliament square, London, on Saturday. The following day protesters plan to go to the US embassy in south London and the US consulate in Edinburgh. 

Supporters of Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) have organised a day of action under the banner “Say their name—Black Lives Matter” on the same day. Its previous day of action on Wednesday saw thousands of people come out to “take the knee”. 

SUTR also has a national online rally the following day. 

Around 5,000 people took to the streets of Birmingham on Thursday afternoon. And on the same day round 700 people gathered at the Hanley Park bandstand in Stoke-on-Trent. 

The vast majority of protesters were black and Asian and under the age of 30.

In Sheffield on Friday 40 cars took part in a Black Lives Matter cavalcade.

For SUTR events go here

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