Socialist Worker

Tens of thousands across Britain join Black Lives Matter protests

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2708

People say Black Lives Matter on a protest in east London

People say Black Lives Matter on a protest in east London (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Tens of thousands of people joined Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests across Britain on Saturday.

The protests reflect a rage at police and institutional racism—and a militant new movement worldwide—in the wake of George Floyd’s murder last month. They were organised by a variety of individuals and groups, including young BLM activists and Stand Up To Racism (SUTR). 

Thousands turned out in Manchester in the second of three planned BLM protests in the city. Colin, who joined the protest in Piccadilly Gardens, told the Manchester Evening News, “People are seeing that this isn't just a one off. 

“It's a lived experience that we've all tried to express. People have died about what's been going today." 

Meanwhile, around 1,500 people came out in Tooting Common, south London, where people collectively took the knee. Speakers included Labour councillor and SUTR supporter Maurice Mcleod who read out an update of Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit, a song about racist violence towards black people. 

Around 2,000 people marched in Milton Keynes and several thousand took to the streets in Leicester. Thousands marched in Bournemouth.

Some 2,000 people marched in Cardiff on Saturday, chanting, “Black Lives Matter.” At a rally in Bute Park, Gabin Kongolo, said, “It fills my heart with joy to know so many people actually care to come down. 

“We don’t want to be killed in the street, cold blooded, just because of the way we were born. 

“We want better for our people, and equal rights, equal opportunities.”

There was also a big protest in Swansea. Elsewhere in Wales there were events in Caerphilly, Carmarthen and Bangor.

On the 1,500-strong protest in Tooting, south London

On the 1,500-strong protest in Tooting, south London (Pic: Ben Windsor )


And in Chatham, Kent, some 200 people marched in single file through the town centre. 

Hundreds came out in Meersbrook Park in Sheffield in a protest organised by supporters of the local SUTR group. Organisers read out the names of black people killed in police custody. It was one of three protests in the city.

There were 500 people taking part in Walthamstow and over 200 in Chesterfield.

There were three socially-distanced actions in different parts of Glasgow

In Swindon, crowds chanted, “We stop when it stops,” as around 1,000 people joined the demonstration. Organiser Zak Agilah told the Swindon Advertiser he was “so proud” to see so many people turn out in a "right wing town”. 

“I expected like 40 people here,” he said. “Non-black and minority ethnic people are finally realising that it’s their problem as well.

“And if we can keep that going, those racist politicians who have been repressive so long have no one to appeal to.”

Second 

Around 500 people gathered for the second time in a week outside Hackney Town Hall in east London in a protest organised by SUTR. 

People took the knee and raised their fists in defiance as they heard a statement from Esa Charles. His son, Rashan Charles, died after contract with the police in the summer of 2017.

Taking the knee in Glasgow

Taking the knee in Glasgow (Pic: Duncan Brown )


Eustace, a friend of the family, read it out, “We have all witnessed yet another death of a person of colour at the hands of the police. My son struggled for breath at the hands of the officers. 

“Rashan’s life was taken and still no justice is served.” 

The crowd burst into chants of, "No lies, no chatter, Black Lives Matter ."

Dave Davis, district secretary of the NEU education union, slammed racist policing in Britain. “We’re here to show solidarity to those brave protesters who night in, night out, have been fighting vicious, racist brutality of the police,” he said. 

“What’s become clear is this is not about a few bad apples in the police force, this is not about a load of bad apples and a few good apples. 

“This is about the whole barrel being rotten and systemically racist to the core.” 

To huge cheers, Dave added, “The racism is institutionalised and we see that in this country as well. We want out young people to not put up with the racism, the system that creates the racism and to tear it down.”

Protests also took place in other other towns and cities on Saturday. 

If you were on a BLM protest, get in touch at [email protected] Stand Up To Racism online rally, Black Lives Matter - we demand change, Sunday 7 June, 6pm, details here

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