Pictured: What happened at the BLM protests across the UK this weekend
From Edinburgh to London town
Following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, USA, thousands of people have protested against racism and for Black Lives Matter across the weekend.
From Edinburgh to London, thousands of protesters took to the streets of their cities to fight for anti-racism and demand solidarity. Whether you attended the protests or watched them vicariously through attendee’s Instagram stories, the nationwide demonstrations were powerful and passionate. These are all of the Black Lives Matter protests that took place across the UK this weekend.
Thousands of protesters joined the Black Lives Matter protest which took place outside of the US embassy in London this weekend.
The peaceful protest rallied against police brutality and systematic racism in the UK on both Saturday and Sunday, and saw protesters march from the US embassy in Battersea towards Parliament Square.
Actor, John Boyega, gave a passionate speech at the protest where he exclaimed: “Black lives have always mattered. We have always been important. We have always meant something. We have always succeeded regardless. And now is the time. I ain’t waiting.”
In Bristol, thousands were seen to march through the city centre to the College Green area where 5,000 protesters stopped to demonstrate.
The Bristol Tab spoke to protester Faisa Mahamud, a 20-year-old University of Bristol student, who discussed the uni’s link with slavery: “The entire city of Bristol has been built on the slave trade and slave money. One person who is an obvious culprit to that is Edward Colston.
“Going to the University of Bristol, a lot of our buildings, halls and streets are named after notorious slave traders. We’ve been told that it’s a part of Bristol’s history and that we should embrace both the good and the bad, but it’s very, very insensitive to black students.”
The Cambridge protest saw 4,000-6,000 protesters gather in Parker’s Piece, Cambridge on Saturday 6th June. Although there had been plans to do a march, the protest was made static to ensure it maintained government guidelines about social distancing.
The Tab Cambridge spoke to Munya Jiri, a 23-year-old student at the University of Leicester. Munya hosted the event and said: “It’s almost like we all got front row cinema tickets to a lynching. You know, George Floyd, we watched him die. For a lot of people it’s shocking, but for the black community, this is something that we’re seeing day in, day out.
“It’s important for us all to remember that this isn’t just America. This is rife in our own city. From the age of seven, was the first time I started facing direct racism. I hit secondary school and [racial slurs] were said to my face daily. And when you have those things said to your face daily, it destroys you. It brings you down.”
Stand Up To Racism Lancaster and Morecambe organised the protest to take place in Dalton Square on Wednesday 3rd June.
Organiser of the event, Audrey Glover said: “I thought it would be 50-100 people all neatly social distancing and then about 500 turned up. We thought it’d be good to get 100. I had no idea it was going to be this big.”
Joshua, a former councillor of Lancaster told The Tab: “The footage of an officer kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck as pleads for his life is harrowing. If it was a white man, would he have used the same brutal force? Why did the other officers turn a blind eye and not speak up in this case?
I can’t sit back and watch my biracial two-year-old son grow up in a society where he is more likely to be targeted because of his skin colour. I want my son to know that his dad stood up and tried to make change.”
Upwards of 15,000 protester took to the streets of Manchester this weekend to rally for Black Lives Matter. Two protests took place in central Manchester this weekend, one on Saturday 6th June and the second on Sunday 7th.
The protest on Saturday began in Piccadilly Gardens from 13:00pm and the Sunday protest took place from 14:00pm, starting in St. Peter’s Square. The protesters then began a march circling from Piccadilly Gardens, along Market Street, along Deansgate to St. Peter’s Square, until returning to Piccadilly Gardens.
A spokesperson told The Tab Manchester: “I didn’t see a single police officer whilst protesting and I am proud of Manchester for that. They respectfully just left us to the protest and did not cause any tension.
“In London there have been so many incidents, mostly stimulated by police presence, whereas Manchester avoided that issue today and respected that the protest would stick to its word in being peaceful. To remove any heavy police presence from the equation guaranteed a protest environment rid of any tensions and showed a respect for the cause. Manchester should be proud.”
Liverpool city centre saw hundreds join to peacefully protest for the Black Lives Matter movement.
People were invited to St George’s Hall from 7.30pm on Tuesday 2nd June to join others in supporting the movement and showing solidarity with black and minority ethnic communities in Liverpool.
One protester tweeted about the “peaceful” and “powerful” nature of the protest. Soph stated: “Correct me if I’m wrong but up to now I’m pretty sure no police have turned up to the Liverpool protest and there is absolutely no violence whatsoever all the lives are so peaceful and beautiful.”
Thursday 4th June saw 4,000 people gather in Birmingham city centre to protest. The protest began at four pm, and began in Victoria Square, starting outside the library and moving through the city to the police’s headquarters.
The Tab Birmingham spoke to Rebecca Tayler Edwards, a final year psychology student who helped to organise the demonstration. Rebecca said: “For too long, the UK has ignored us when we speak of the violence against our BAME communities. This is not an American pandemic. This is global. This is systematic.
“We refuse to feel helpless as yet another one of us is murdered without any repercussions. So we can either speak in as one voice or not at all. Birmingham can either remain silent or speak up.”
Coventry held their BLM protest in Broadgate at 1.30pm on Sunday 7th June, although it was reported that protesters were assembling in the city before that.
The protest also induced the closure of the M6 after protests spread onto the motorway, CoventryLive reports.
Joseph, a filmmaker from Coventry described the protest as: “We were loud and people everywhere heard our voice. Collectively, with total unity and in PEACE. Let’s keep pushing forward.”
Durham saw its first Black Lives Matter event on Saturday 6th June with a socially distanced crowd of around 200 meeting at Palace Green.
Protesters were faced with a counter-protest consisting of around 10 people at Market Square after a video emerged online calling for Durham locals to protect the Square’s statues.
Amarni Saunders, a third year student at Durham, told The Tab Durham: “It was amazing to see so many people take a knee in solidarity with ending racism and prejudice across the world. The turnout was great and the support was overwhelming.
“On the one hand, it was uplifting to see so many white people who are not directly affected by racism, speaking out about prejudice towards their fellow humans. On the other hand, the small number of black people shows how underrepresented they are in Durham and that we still have a long way to go in order to address the centuries of racial inequality and systemic racism.
“Today was an excellent start and I want to give a special thanks to the Jerome Yates and Greg Venyo for organising such an amazing and peaceful protest. Its peaceful nature was a stark contrast to the violence anticipated at the counter protest in the Market Square.”
Demonstrations were held in Bute park on Saturday to protest against the discrimination that black communities suffer. Speeches were made at the Stone Circle from 13:00pm until 15:00pm, before the protesters marched towards the National Assembly for Wales.
Rhi, a Cardiff Met student, said to The Cardiff Tab: “Obviously with all the recent events in America, people think that the UK is innocent when it really isn’t.”
She added: “I think it’s about time people stop brushing racism under the carpet. People think the UK is innocent and it’s not, especially not Cardiff. I hope people start to listen now and realise we won’t be silenced until there is justice for everyone.”
The Tab Nottingham estimated that over one thousand people attended the protest on Sunday 7th June at the Forest Recreation Ground.
The peaceful protest began at 12pm, and ended with an eight minute silence, whereby protesters all took a knee and remembered the lives lost at the hands of police brutality.
The Tab Nottingham reported live quotes from speakers at the protest, with one saying: “We’re here today to show our support and solidarity. As a black woman, and as a human being, I am angry and heartbroken and it’s time to put a stop to this.”
Another speaker said: “Your community is your family. When you apply pressure, change happens. So we need to apply pressure. Let’s hope we the last generation who has to fight this fight.”
Edinburgh activists organised a static protest to support Black Lives Matter on Sunday, June 7th at Holyrood Park.
Protesters described the demonstration as “socially distanced, peacful and passionate”. The demonstration saw thousands of people in attendance with EdinburghLive reporting that 5,456 would be the capacity for the site.
Anna, a teacher and protester at the Edinburgh demonstration described the protest as “peaceful” and “passionate”.
William, a Queen Margaret University psychology graduate stated: “No words to describe being at the black lives matter protest in Edinburgh today. Everyone made a conscious effort to remain socially distant, wore masks and the event was extremely well managed. No hostility from anyone who attended, just people agreeing that enough is enough.”
Featured Image credit at: Tom Morbey