By Isabel Ringrose
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Anti-racists take the knee across Britain as part of international day of action

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Issue 2747
Around 150 people took the knee in Windrush Square in Brixton, south London
Around 150 people took the knee in Windrush Square in Brixton, south London (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Anti-racists in towns and cities across Britain came out on Saturday to show resistance to racism.

Hundreds of Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) supporters “took the knee” at dozens of rallies as part of the #WorldAgainstRacism day of action.

People have gained confidence after thousands of people defied the police in the last week. Thousands came out onto the streets against the sexist system, cops’ violence and the protest-smashing Police Bill.

Despite threats from the police, Oxford saw over 100 people join three take the knee events. “Rhodes Must Fall Oxford campaigners and students took the knee below the statue of the racist Cecil Rhodes,” Oxford SUTR said.

Activists then marched and sat outside the police station “to protest against the imposition of the new bill that will give police new powers to curb protests”.

Around 150 campaigners gathered in Windrush Square in Brixton, south London.

They chanted, “Black Lives Matter”, “No justice, no peace”, and, “Say it loud, say it clear—refugees are welcome here.” A list of names of those who have died after contact with the cops was also read out.

Kenana from Sudan came to the protest to “support Black Lives Matter and anti-racists”. But he told Socialist Worker that he also wanted to fight the Tory police bill. “This is a matter for everyone,” he said. 

“We have got the right to protest—they can’t use Covid as an excuse.” 

Maritza came with a group of indigenous people originally from Bolivia. “Racism has gone up a lot,” she told Socialist Worker. “We are discriminated against for not having the right face. So protests like this mean a lot for us.” 

And Michael, a local teacher and NEU union member, told the crowd the Tories’ coronavirus policies have put more black people at risk. 

“They have sent us back to schools too early every time,” he said. “Black workers are affected the most by Covid-19. The government has done nothing to address this.” 

Several marches took place in Glasgow as part of the #WorldAgainstRacism day of action
Several marches took place in Glasgow as part of the #WorldAgainstRacism day of action

Glasgow SUTR reported “successful demonstrations across the city”. One protest in the city’s Queen’s Park saw activists march with drums and banners. They chanted, “Refugees are welcome here,” and, “Black Lives Matter”.

And activists carried banners from Love Music Hate Racism and others calling for action on the climate crisis.

In Brighton, anti-racists joined a 1,000-strong march against the Tories’ bill and angrily demanded, “Kill the bill.”

They also took the knee outside the police station and on the sea front and members of the local mosque raised their fists in solidarity.

At one of three protests in Sheffield, 70 people rallied with union banners from the GMB, UCU and Unite unions and the local trades council. They took the knee for eight minutes 46 seconds—the same time US cop Derrick Chauvin had his knee on George Floyd’s neck—and chanted, “No justice, no peace.” 

Meanwhile, 30 gathered with banners and posters outside the East London Mosque in Tower Hamlets.

And outside the nearby Royal London Hospital, 20 stood with trade union banners and another that read, “Keep Our NHS Public.”.

There was a big turnout in Manchester where nurse Karen Reissmann had been fined for organising a protest two weeks before
There was a big turnout in Manchester where nurse Karen Reissmann had been fined for organising a protest two weeks before

Around 150 rallied in Manchester, where nurse Karen Reissmann was fined £10,000 for protesting against the Tory NHS pay insult. Some people also took the knee outside the George Floyd memorial in the city.

Anti-racist activist Nahella told the crowd, “They should be fining and prosecuting this government. They are the ones responsible for the tens of thousands of people who have lost their lives over Covid-19.

“And for the hundreds of deaths in police custody.

“It’s not just US police who kill black or working class people. In this country there are families still fighting for justice.”

This was followed by cries of “Whose streets? Our streets”.

In Chesterfield, around 40 gathered for a socially distanced event. Over 50 assembled in Hackney, east London. And in York 60 people took the knee in the city centre. One speaker said the Police Bill is “an attack on Black Lives Matter, Extinction Rebellion and all creative forms of protest”.

Meanwhile, over 50 people joined a protest on Wanstead Flats in Newham, east London. 

Porscha told Socialist Worker that it was vitally important to continue protesting. “Anti-racist protests need to keep happening and they need to link with the protests that started after the death of Sarah Everard,” she said.

In Bristol protesters demonstrated outside the empty plinth that held the statue of slaver Edward Colston, which was torn down by Black Lives Matter activists in the summer.

In Cardiff and Swansea anti-racists took the knee along with the cities’ football teams who played each other on Saturday.

And protesters held banners and posters across the North East of England, including in Gateshead and Tyneside. Jamie Driscoll, Labour mayor for the North of Tyne area, joined activists at the Martin Luther King statue in Newcastle.

Protests also took place in Birmingham, Norwich, Nottingham, Hastings, Bournemouth, Liverpool, Leeds, Aberdeen, Walsall, Weymouth, Derby and Aberdeen and Islington, Walthamstow and Ealing in London.

A Twitter storm saw the hashtags #TakeTheKnee #AntiRacismDay and #WorldAgainstRacism trending. SUTR accounts tweeted hundreds of pictures of activists and trade unionists supporting the day’s events. 

The day of action showed we’ll defend the right to protest by staying on the streets. With the Tories ramping up attacks on migrants, refugees, Muslims and black people, it’s vital to keep up the fight against racism.

Send us your reports and pictures from the Stand Up To Racism day of action [email protected] 

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