The Garner protest: Why it matters

Led by London Black Revs, hundreds of angry souls flooded Westfield Mall in White City, London last week. Megan Sherman, who was there along with one other Southampton student, reports […]


Led by London Black Revs, hundreds of angry souls flooded Westfield Mall in White City, London last week. Megan Sherman, who was there along with one other Southampton student, reports on what happened.

Garner protest

The protesters overtook the surrounding streets in solidarity with people all over the world protesting the Staten Island grand jury decision to acquit the white cop who killed Eric Garner on 17 July.

Eric died tragically of compression injuries to the neck after being choked for selling cigarettes to feed his family.

Despite the choking tactic being outlawed since 1993 there was nevertheless still no prosecution, illustrating how racial privileges pervert the course of true justice. From London to Delhi to New York and beyond, people are pissed off that this verdict has been allowed to stand.

Despite pre-emptive planning by Australian multinational Westfield to man and shield the entrances with private security, a majority of protestors slipped through anyway, applauded by bored shop workers and shouted at by a few furious shoppers.

God knows why they would rather be listening to the shit Christmas music being blasted through the tannoy system than the variety of colourful and rumbustious chants the Black Revs had going on:

Back up, back up/ We want freedom, freedom/ All these racist-ass cops/ We don’t need ‘em, need em!

In the style of a flash-mob, bodies fell to the floor on cue to perform a solidarity ‘die-in’, invoking the act of killing and moreover the memory of all victims of police racism in and beyond Britain and the States. The unifying message was that #BlackLivesMatter.

As well as serving the memories of the fallen, it was a broader protest saying that we are sick of a system of ugly biases which mean people with more melanin, the pigment derived from the amino acid tyrosine which determines skin colour, are treated as if they are worthless because of white supremacist doctrines.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the police acted more as a private security force for Westfield and its expensive clobber than fulfilling any ideal of public protection.

Having left Westfield to join a rally in the park, we returned again to the mall and surged through the weak line put up by the cops to quarrel with the rainbow trying to get inside.

Overpowered, they called for reinforcements, and began kettling. Not having any of the kettling malarkey, we broke the circle, and a cat and mouse game began.

After the first kettle was broken I turned round and find a young man collapsed, having been choked by a police officer. Pretty callous by anyone’s standards; you’d hope that is the one thing they wouldn’t do.

The Garner protest in Westfield matters because it is the hope for a world where lost lives and wasted potential are not blindly accepted. It is a long, painful cry for a world where every life is treated with dignity and respect. And that is why the police made an arrest en masse on the Shepherds Bush flyover.

Because the truth is fighting its way out of prison, and they are scared.

What are your views in the Garner case? Let us know in the comments below.