Durham Black Lives Matter event met by counter-protest

The counter protest was attended by 10 people and was disbanded by police

Durham saw its first Black Lives Matter event this afternoon with a socially distanced crowd of around 200 meeting at Palace Green.

The protest was one of many across the country, with demonstrations taking place in London, Manchester, and Leicester, among others, protesting the death of George Floyd at the hands of American police a week ago and supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.

Speakers at the Durham event called out the systematic racism present within our society whilst also drawing attention to police brutality and discrimination in the UK. Some speakers also called for attendants to write to their local MPs calling for  Parliament to halt the sale of tear gas to American authorities who are currently using it against protestors in the USA.

Protestors also collectively “took a knee,” in homage to Colin Kaepernick, the American football quarterback who famously knelt during a rendition National Anthem before a match in 2016, to protest against racial inequality in the United States. The gesture has been seen in protests across the globe.

Jerome Yates, one of the protest’s organisers told The Tab Durham: “I was really taken aback by how many people turned up. Peace was maintained and we were able to spread our message against racism while socially distancing. Just generally a really positive atmosphere and hopefully it’ll get people to continue taking action.”

Amarni Saunders, a 3rd 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.”

The peaceful protest was met with a counter protest of around 10 people at Market Square after a video emerged online calling for Durham locals to protect the Square’s statues. The man in the video expressed his worry about “the safety of the statues,” as well as calling for locals to “protect the shops” from “fucking lefties” who he believed would turn violent and deface the statues. The video was posted on a Facebook group for local residents of Durham City. The counter protest was disbanded by the police.