Socialist Worker

‘The anti-racist momentum should not be lost, we cannot be silenced’—protests across Britain

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2711

Protesters take the knee in Mile End park

Protesters take the knee in Mile End park (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Anti-racists “took the knee” for Black Lives Matter (BLM) in towns and cities across Britain on Wednesday.

The Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) day of action came in the fifth week of protests in the wake of the police murder of George Floyd and in solidarity with the uprisings against racism in the US.

Around 200 people rallied across Lancaster. Activists gathered in seven locations and linked up in a chain in the town.

Supporters of the SUTR group in West Wales held protests across three locations, with 15 in Pembroke Dock, 75 in Haverfordwest and 60 in Tenby.

On the same evening activists gathered in Victoria Square in Birmingham. And around 35 local residents took the knee in the Pennfields area of Wolverhampton in the West Midlands.

Around 80 people rallied in Mile End Park in Tower Hamlets, east London.

Tahera had come to show solidarity with the family of Youness Bentahar, who was violently arrested in the borough one year ago this month. They have found out that the police watchdog, the IOPC, will not be pursuing the case. “There was an investigation by the IOPC and we had hoped for disciplinary action,” she told Socialist Worker.

“Today we found out from the solicitor that it has been dropped.”

Youness was violently arrested after parking on a single yellow line on Abbot Row, Tower Hamlets, where his sister lives. “They held him down,” said Tahera who lives next door to his sister.

“He was gasping for breath, his body was in shock.”

Vivian, one of the borough’s youth mayors, dismissed claims that Britain is innocent of police and institutional racism.

Attention

She told the crowd, “You always hear, the UK isn’t that racist, it’s the least racist country I know, at least I’m not in America. But black people to this day still suffer from institutionalised and systematic racism.”

“It can be your teacher asking you and your black friends to hang around in smaller groups to not be intimidating to other students.”

She added, “Now that we have the world’s attention, it’s time to educate and reshape the world that we live in.

“The momentum should not be lost, we cannot be silenced, we need to stand together.”

Meanwhile, around 70 people rallied on the Wanstead Flats in the neighbouring borough of Newham. Speakers pointed out that it’s been three years since Edson Da Costa died after contact with the police in east London.

Kioli, a protester, told the crowd, “It upsets me that racial inequality still exists today.

“It makes me happy to see so many people, black and white and Asian coming together.”

Commission

Protesters weren’t impressed by Tory prime minister Boris Johnson’s promises of a commission into racism in Britain. As Kioli said, “Boris Johnson shouldn’t be in government, he’s said racist things.

“We should have people in government who represent everyone.”

Protesters took the knee for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the same time that George Floyd was pinned down.

Around 80 people took the knee outside Hackney Town Hall in east London.

Meanwhile, around 60 people turned out in Meersbrook Park in Sheffield, South Yorkshire.

And in nearby Rotherham, activist Phil Turner reports, “Our take the knee protest developed into the biggest yet with a number of young people joining. It created an exciting atmosphere.

“We also challenged and saw off a white lives matter racist.”

“There was a lot of supportive horn-blowing from passing cars."


Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'


Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.