black lives matter uk protest

Black Lives Matter: The UK Stands with America

Black Lives Matter protests reach UK after US cop murders George Floyd

Black Lives Matter rallies and protests have reached Britain with thousands marching across the country in solidarity with the global black community.

The world became outraged overnight as a video surfaced of a police officer in Minneapolis, Derek Chauvin, kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, an African American man, until he died.

George Floyd
George Floyd’s life was tragically cut short while in police custody due to the officer’s excessive force that compressed his neck, back and diaphragm. [Image: SB-American.]

The cold-blooded murder has ignited the conversation of Black Lives Matter once more with millions around the world being spurred into action, both online and offline, with notably hacktivist group Anonymous leaking US and UK state secrets online in response.

A London protester, Shayne, said: “We wanted to show we’re proud of who we are and that we shouldn’t have to hide our blackness to stay alive.” 

The cold-blooded murder has ignited the conversation of Black Lives Matter once more with millions around the world being spurred into action

While the cases of police brutality and blatant discrimination against black communities in America has acted as the catalyst for widespread demonstration, the UK has blood on its hands too when it comes to how it treats black and ethnic minority communities.

Black migrants face difficulties in the immigration process, with those travelling from African countries routinely denied visas, despite being African academics and other highly trained professionals. 

black lives matter uk protest
Black Lives Matter protesters in London marched towards Trafalgar Square to demand justice, equality and real change on Sunday 31 May. [Image: Matt Dunham/AP/People’s World].

The death of Mark Duggan, shot and killed in 2011 by the Met police, led to riots in the capital. Research suggests UK police are four times more likely to use force against black individuals than they are against white individuals.  

The UK has blood on its hands too when it comes to how it treats black and ethnic minority communities

Those at the recent London demonstrations held up signs in solidarity, including remembering the names of those who have died after being restrained by UK police such as Rasharn Charles and Sheku Bayoh. 

Shayne added: “The prejudice that black people in America face is the same prejudice we face here. When one is hurt, we’re all hurt, because it could have been us.” 

Officer Chauvin, although was one of four officers who restrained Floyd, kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds despite Floyd’s pleas of “I can’t breathe”. A private post-mortem revealed Floyd did die of asphyxia as a result, yet Chauvin has only been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.

Black Lives Matter protests USA
Protesters have set the streets alight to demand justice for George, particularly in Minneapolis. [Image: Redfish/Newsclick.] 

Floyd was allegedly arrested for using a fake $20 note, a non-violent crime if true. As such, activists have been drawing comparisons between how US police forces arrest violent, white criminals such as terrorist Dylann Roof who murdered nine black people in a church in South Carolina in 2015, but was arrested without incident. 

Injustices faced by the BAME community such as the Windrush scandal and Grenfell demonstrate the pain and suffering that can be inflicted when black lives are deemed lesser than white lives

Eyran Kiakia, a 20-year-old YouTuber and black activist, criticised the idea the UK is more progressive regarding race than America “when it actually isn’t.” 

Injustices faced by the BAME community such as the Windrush scandal and Grenfell demonstrate the pain and suffering that can be inflicted when black lives are deemed lesser than white lives, as well as the many microaggressions faced by black people and people of colour every day. 

Kiakia said: “Just because it’s so subtle and it’s not overt, it doesn’t mean it’s not racist.” 

george floyd black lives matter uk
A memorial has been set up where George died which has become flooded with messages and flowers of those moved by George’s story. [Image: BBC/Reuters.]

The protests in the UK are going ahead in June, with protestors advised to follow social distancing and practice good hygiene due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation. 

UK Black Lives Matter on Twitter have stated they are not affiliated with planned protestors and are “discussing” implications of large gatherings “in the middle of a pandemic that is killing us [black and people of colour] the most.” 

Links detailing how you can donate, sign petitions, help or learn more about Black Lives Matter can be found here

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