Anti-racists are gearing up for Black Lives Matter protests this weekend in the face of a Tory attempt to stoke a right wing backlash.
BLM organisers had planned for another march through central London on Saturday, but moved to a call for local mobilisations. Their decision came amid a fear of clashes with Nazi Tommy Robinson, who had threatened to protest in Parliament Square, and coronavirus concerns.
A thousands-strong demonstration in central London on Friday showed that rage at racism runs deep. Marchers gathered in Hyde Park at lunchtime and then marched to Trafalgar Square.
Protester Miz stressed that it is important to keep up the momentum of the protests. “This is a historical event—not only in the US or London but across the world,” she told Socialist Worker.
“People are standing up and saying no to racism—we can’t stop.”
Protesters chanted, “Teach black history”, “My skin is not a crime,” and, “Power to the people.” One sign read, “How many weren’t filmed”—referring to how so much police brutality against black people doesn’t make the news.
Around 1,000 gathered in St Albans, Hertfordshire, and 400 in Islington, north London, on the same day.
The marches came as Tory prime minister Boris Johnson said “the only responsible course of action” was to stay away from the protests, claiming they had been “hijacked by extremists intent on violence”.
It's Johnson who is ramming through violent racism.
Other Tory MPs are demanding a clampdown on moves to tear down any more statues or memorials to slave traders and imperialists. Ben Bradley, Tory MP for Mansfield, said pulling down slave traders’ statues was an attack on our history and our culture”.
“Government need to be absolutely clear and firm on this if we are to keep a lid on increasing tensions,” he said.
But the moves against statues are confronting the celebration of a racist history.
These threats didn’t deter protesters from coming out on Friday. As marcher Devion, who is originally from the US, told Socialist Worker, “I won’t be scared away by the far right, I want to keep standing up.
“Rain, sleet, snow, Satan, demons we’ll be still here protesting.”
Tesha stressed that for many people the BLM protests are just too important not to attend. “I have three kids,” she told Socialist Worker. “One of them who is 18 has had her confidence destroyed by racist bullying.
“We have to keep going—nothing is going to keep me away from this.”
As the movement continues, many protesters are drawing radical conclusions. One speaker pointed out the links between racism, poverty and crime— which was met with one of the loudest cheers from the crowd.
And Devion said, “A revolution is the only answer—that’s how we get change.”
Protesters are planned in a number of places across the weekend, including Hackney, Tottenham and Croydon in London. Supporters of Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) will also protest against the far right in central London on Saturday.