We spoke to Black Lives Matters protestors in Oxford about why protesting is important

Over 3,000 people attended

Over the past week, thousands of people all over the country have gathered to peacefully protest for the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the death of George Floyd.

The protests are fighting against police brutality in America, as well as the U.K., mourning the lives of those who have died from police brutality and calling for changes in inherently racist societies.

There have been silent protests, marches, and even tearing down statues of historically racist figures.

On Wednesday and Sunday, last week over 3,000 people joined each day in Oxford South Park for the peaceful protest.  The Tab Brookes spoke to people at the protest about why protesting is important to them and what others can do to help the movement more in Oxford.

‘To be silent is to choose the side of the oppressor’

Zara Khogli, an A-Level student in Oxford, spoke at the protest yesterday about the inherent issue of racism within the British education system.

“I attended because I felt like as a PoC I had a moral responsibility to stand up for the black community and to do my part to help abolish all forms of racism. The atmosphere as a whole was amazing the amount of love and support that people had to share was uplifting and the speakers were so inspirational.

“Personally, I think it’s so important because to be silent is to choose the side of the oppressor and to get up and protest brings people together and shows awareness of the cause, for example, you see people’s story’s on social media all at the protest and you question why you didn’t go then you start to learn more and more.

“Another way that people in Oxford can help is by educating themselves and researching, we aren’t taught about black history so it’s important to know the reasons why we are fighting for justice.”

‘The main thing is people need to realize that this isn’t just an American thing’

Vicky Paige, also spoke at the protest yesterday reading a letter on behalf of her friend. Vicky told us why she spoke on her friend’s behalf:

“My friend is the kindest person you’ll ever meet, she has the nicest family and I really am blessed to know her. She couldn’t go to the protest because of Covid-19 so I offered to say something on her behalf, as a black woman. She wrote this amazing speech for me and I just knew it had to be shared.

“I was so scared but there was so much love and joy and empowerment, not only in her speech but also at the protest itself, so I managed to have the courage to do it. I think the main thing is people need to realize that this isn’t just an American thing, it happens here too.

“It’s all well and good saying you’re upset about it, but you need to actually do something to make the change you want to see. It disgusts me that my friend and I are not valued the same just because of our skin color, and I want to do anything I can to make sure that changes.

“I think people should start supporting black businesses, should be allies to their black friends, call out their racist family members and friends, make them know it’s not ok.”

‘We won’t get justice unless we fight for what’s right’

Zahrah Hoosein Khan, a fourteen-year-old student in Oxford, told The Tab Brookes how people in Oxfordshire can best help the movement.

“The best way people in Oxford can help is by donating, bringing awareness to the BLM movement by posting on social media, signing petitions, encouraging others to do the same and to be actively anti-racist not just not racist it’s all about finding new ways to spread the word and help more people understand that black lives matter.”

When asked why Zara chose to attend the protest she told us: “I attended because I believe in standing up for what’s right, and also my family comes from a Caribbean background so it’s a part of who I am. The atmosphere was a sense of unity and solidarity and everyone was calm whilst voicing their opinions.

“It’s important because people need to understand that we won’t get justice unless we fight for what’s right and it’s about equality and we want to be equal not less than. We want to have the same opportunities as everyone else. For the people in Oxford that don’t attend protests because they don’t feel safe, there’s plenty of other things they can do to help! They can sign petitions, join online protests, and educate themselves about everything going on in the world so they have a deeper understanding of it!”

‘Educate yourself, and call out racist behavior’

Chloe Diamond, a freelance writer, told The Tab Brookes:

“I attended to show my support, as physical numbers are important and necessary for morale. I wanted to get together with the many to show the power of the community and that we stand in solidarity with BLM.

“The atmosphere was energized, but with an air of sadness, of course. It was bittersweet in a way, seeing everyone come together and to hear incredible speeches, but heartbreaking that it needs to happen at all!

“As for how to help, I think making a point of supporting local black-owned businesses, as well as black-owned businesses across the UK is important. Also having these conversations, no matter how uncomfortable they are, is something all of us can do. Keeping the fire going by making steps every day to improve your awareness, educate yourself, and call out racist behavior, even when the media stops reporting on it.”

‘We were singing together, shouting together, and crying together’

Nabila Hafiz, another protestor, spoke to The Tab Brookes’ on why she attended the protest.

“When the George Floyd murder hit the news I was purely angry, I feel incredibly passionate about human justice and it was completely appalling to me that police are freely walking after murdering countless black lives. the black lives matter protest organization was a spark of hope for me and I had to make a statement and fight for what’s right.

“It’s all strange, it’s as if we never moved forward from the day’s Martin Luther King was here. but seeing those thousands of people in south park on Wednesday, it made me believe that humanity is still there. I felt proud, moved and I genuinely felt happy for the first time after weeks. when I’d stand there amongst everyone, I couldn’t resist but to have a look for myself.

“I’m not being dramatic when I say this, the view of the crowd of people was inspiring and something everyone should see. the beauty was indescribable and I wish everyone could’ve been there to see it. We were singing together, shouting together, and crying together.”

‘It’s important to protest as it shows the level of support our community has’

Protestor Kira Alice Moss told The Tab Brookes about the importance of protesting:

“I attended because I wanted to show my support physically and be there. It’s a movement I believe so firmly in and I wanted to be there to show all types of people support this movement also as a member of the LGBTQ + community the only way I’ve got rights is by the people speaking out and protesting and it is another way we can create change for BLM movement.

“It was incredibly peaceful the message was of unity, strength, and fight. It really emphasized how we can change the world if we all fight for the BLM movement. It’s important to protest as it shows the level of support our community has. If you can’t protest than read books, write to your mp and try and change people’s views. Preach the ending of a system that is rigged against minorities. Donate and sign petitions.”

‘Anti-racism is so much more than just attending a protest’

Mia Moores, who will be attending Oxford Brookes in September told The Tab Brookes:

“It is so important to attend protests like these and so important to educate yourself on the history, the institutionalized racism and systematic racism in our country -this was something that was mentioned frequently throughout the protest.

“People in Oxford can help by attending the protests, signing and sharing petitions, helping small black-owned businesses, getting involved with charities, donating masks or gloves to the people that are attending the protests, there are so many things that you can do to help, anti-racism is so much more than just attending a protest.”

The next protest happening in Oxford tomorrow between 5:00 pm-7:00 pm at the Rhodes Statue.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

• In pictures: 4,000 people protest in Birmingham for Black Lives Matter

• We asked your uni what it’s actually doing to fight racism, beyond a statement

• Bristol protesters tear down statue of slave-trader Edward Colston