Socialist Worker

Anti-racists take the knee across Britain on anniversary of George Floyd’s murder

by Isabel Ringrose
Issue No. 2757

Taking the knee in Windrush Square in Brixton, south London

Taking the knee in Windrush Square in Brixton, south London (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Anti-racists took the knee in workplaces and local areas across Britain on Tuesday, the one-year anniversary of the police murder of George Floyd.

Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) and the TUC union federation called the day of action to fight back against institutional racism in Britain. 

Around 70 anti-racists gathered in Windrush Square in Brixton, south London. Organiser Elizabeth told the protest, “We stand in a tradition of people coming together, old and young, black and white. Racism is not just a US problem—racism is part of the fabric of Britain.”

Shankay, who was passing by and joined the protest, told Socialist Worker, “It’s important for the first-year anniversary that people have come together.

“There is a new generation involved in Black Lives Matter.”

Shankay slammed Priti Patel’s attacks on refugees. “This country is built of immigrants,” she said. “I came here 20 years ago from Jamaica. The Windrush generation scandal saw people getting deported that have been here for so long.

“It means it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been here, even if you are classed as British.”

SUTR co-convenor Weyman Bennett told the crowd, “Nothing was ever given to us. If people ask how did we win, we say by fighting. There would be no justice for George Floyd if wasn’t for the film of his murder.

“But there also wouldn’t have been any without millions marching in the streets. We need to stop pretending it’s black versus white. It’s us versus them—us versus racists.”

Activists in the US speak out—why our fight for justice isn’t over
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Elsewhere in south London, 60 gathered in Tooting and around 100 in Lewisham.

In Glasgow over 50 gathered in the Southside and 70 in the West End.

SUTR activist Ruby told Socialist Worker the Southside protest was “brilliant”. “Lots more people want to get involved,” she said. “The key thing we’ve tried to emphasise tonight is there has been some justice around George Floyd, but racism is a massive problem in Scotland and so many places.

“BLM resonated around the world not just in sympathy with Minneapolis, but because so many relate on a day to day basis.”

“It’s a systemic problem,” Ruby added. “Some politicians in Scotland are expressing solidarity with the US but if they want to do something we need justice for people like Sheku Bayoh.”

Sheku Bayoh died after being restrained by six police officers in a Kirkcaldy street in 2015.

Around 30 people gathered on Kirkcaldy High Street on 22 May in support for Sheku's family in their search for justice and to remind everyone that Scotland is not innocent.

Displayed 

In Brighton over 200 chanted, “Black Lives Matter.” One speaker told the protest, “All lives can’t matter until black lives matter.” Posters also displayed the names of people who have died in police custody.

Meanwhile, over 150 gathered in Oxford. Activists took the knee and read out the names of victims of police violence. And then they marched to the statue of imperialist Cecil Rhodes that they are fighting to get pulled down.

Over 35 people joined a take the knee in Bournemouth—with black, Muslim, Jewish and Roma speakers addressing the protesters.

In Derby, 70 joined the action as did 50 in Lancaster, 40 in Southampton and 50 in Hackney, east London.

In Tower Hamlets, east London, over 35 trade unionists including Unison union members and health workers took the knee.

A health worker spoke about the lies behind the government’s Sewell report, which sought to deny institutional racism. They pointed to the disproportionate number of black deaths during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tower Hamlets SUTR activist Naima told Socialist Worker, “It’s important people mobilise on the streets.

“We have to continue protesting against the continuous attacks by the Tory government.”

At Bow and Langdon Park schools in the borough, school workers filled the playgrounds to take the knee.

Early years workers in York

Early years workers in York


Meanwhile, over 50 gathered on the Wanstead flats in neighbouring Newham.

Protesters heard the names of those that have been died in police custody in Britain and the US—and then took the knee. NHS and refugee activists, trade unionists and school students addressed the crowd.

Zain told the protest, “We’ve been here many times, it’s important we keep on reminding everyone to keep coming to these events. 

“And we cannot be shy to keep on calling out the racism within institutions like the police.” 

In Bristol activists gathered at the empty plinth of the statue of slaver Edward Colston, which BLM activists dumped into the docks last summer.

On the same evening, over 80 gathered to take the knee at event organised by SUTR and Sheffield Take the Knee.

It came came after Sheffield SUTR held a protest to remember victims of the police on Saturday. Over 60 activists heard a statement from Janet Alder whose brother Christopher died in police custody in Hull in 1998.

There were union banners from the UCU, NEU and Napo.

Anti-racists in Oxford marched on the statue of imperialist Cecil Rhodes

Anti-racists in Oxford marched on the statue of imperialist Cecil Rhodes


Meanwhile, over 100 gathered in Manchester on Tuesday chanting, “Say his name,” and, “Black Lives Matter.”

Throughout the day, workers held actions in their workplaces to fight racism in society and at work. At City and Islington Sixth Form College in north London, where union members are on strike, picketers took the knee.

And at Chesterfield College, students and staff also took part in the day of action. And over 50 took the knee in the town centre at 6pm.

More than 40 workers at St Leonard’s Hospital in Hackney, east London, took the knee.

Protests were also held in towns and cities, including, Edinburgh, York, Leicester, Leeds, Portsmouth, Rochester, Darlington, Newcastle, Norwich, Liverpool, Birmingham and Nottingham.

Anti-racists and trade unionists must now build on the day of action to keep up the fight against institutional racism.


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