Anti-racists “took the knee” across Britain on Wednesday as part of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.
It marked the sixth national day of action, organised by Stand Up To Racism (SUTR), in the wake of the police murder of George Floyd in the US. Tens of thousands of people have joined BLM demonstrations against police and institutional racism in Britain in recent weeks.
Around 250 people joined the protest at the Home Office visa and immigration centre on Brand Street, Glasgow called by SUTR. Mark Brown reports, “The mood was determined and angry, as speakers called for an end to hotel detention, and demanded decent accommodation and proper vulnerability and mental health checks for asylum seekers.
“There were many refugees and asylum seekers in the crowd, including groups from the Sudanese and Afghan communities. They were joined by asylum rights and anti-racist activists from across the city, including many young activists who have been involved in the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Banners on display included the teachers’ EIS union, the transport workers’ RMT, the Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees and the Glasgow Afghan community.”
The socially distanced protest demanded that Glasgow’s asylum seekers are moved to homes and have their meagre allowance of £5.39 per day restored.
Right wingers in the city have tried to stoke a backlash against refugees and migrants after police shot dead Sudanese asylum seeker Badreddin Abedlla Adam. He was suspected of stabbing people at the Park Inn on Friday of last week.
It is one of several hotels being used to house asylum seekers in the city during the coronavirus pandemic.
In Manchester supporters of SUTR held a series of take the knee protests across the city, including in Bury, Stretford and Hulme.
Activists took the knee in Sheffield and in nearby Rotherham in South Yorkshire.
Meanwhile, over 50 people took the knee on Newington Green in north London London in a protest organised by the Islington and Hackney SUTR groups. Krystell, an NEU education union member and Islington teacher, said, “This is not just a moment—this is a movement and we need to keep it going.”
Krystell reported back from “an amazing meeting with 400 people about ‘Black Kids Matter” the previous night. “It was looking at how our schools are failing black kids,” she said.
“We had a speaker from the No More Exclusions campaign talk to us about the number of black children being excluded and what we need to do about that.
“We also had a history teacher, come and speak to us about decolonising the curriculum.
“That’s something we really need to push.”
There continue to be protests outside the big cities. Peter Wearden reports, “Over 60 young people and anti-racists gathered in Christchurch, one of the most Tory constituencies in England, to remember George Floyd and oppose racism.
“There were excellent speeches from a range of young people and SUTR contributed. At 6pm we all took the knee then marched around the riverside area with Tory jaws dropping as we passed a local pub.”
SUTR plans two major online rallies on Thursday and Friday.
Speakers including Janet Alder and Marcia Rigg will join an open forum on, Police, institutional racism and the fight for justice, on Thursday. Christopher Alder and Sean Rigg, died after contact with the police.
The following day US civil rights leader, the Rev Jesse Jackson, will take part in an SUTR rally asking, “Where next for the anti-racist movement?” Other speakers include Baltimore pastor Todd Yeary, playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah and Diane Abbott, Labour MP and SUTR national president.
On Saturday the SUTR group in Wandsworth, south London, plans a rally for the Windrush generation in Battersea Park. Labour MP Marsha Da Cordova and Windrush campaigner Patrick Vernon will be among the speakers.
On the same day Haringey SUTR plans a protest against the police using tasers and stop and search. They will gather on Ducketts Common in Turnpike Lane, north London, from 12 noon.
Hesketh Benoit, a local campaigner and basketball coach, said, “The police are taser-happy and cannot be trusted with such an offensive weapon.
“It’s got to stop.”
Ken Hinds, who runs the Haringey Stop and Search Monitoring Group, added, “Stop and Search incidents have gone up by 60 percent since the pandemic started.
“Black men are now eight times more likely to be searched for the ‘smell’ of cannabis but less likely to be found with any.
“This misuse of power has to be stopped.”
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