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Justice for George Floyd protest, London, 31 May. Photo: Lucy Nichols

Justice for George Floyd protest, London, 31 May. Photo: Lucy Nichols

"No justice, no peace" rang out on the streets of London as protesters marched in solidarity with Minneapolis, reports Lucy Nichols

On Sunday, thousands of protestors donned masks, gloves and handmade placards to demand an end to police racism in Britain and in the US. At 1pm today, Trafalgar Square was silent as thousands kneeled and raised their fists in remembrance of George Floyd – a black man murdered by the police in Minnesota just weeks ago. Though today’s demonstration was inspired by the wave of rebellions against police in the US, protestors made it clear that racism is just as prevalent in Britain as it is across the Atlantic. Protestors made clear their anger in demanding safety and equality of people of colour in the UK. ‘Justice for Belly’ echoed in Trafalgar Square; Belly Mujinga was a ticket office worker who died of Coronvirus after being spat on at work – the police have decided that no further action will be taken in the investigation into her death. Belly’s death is yet another example of the British state’s disregard for black lives.

Chants of ‘the UK is not innocent’, and ‘Justice for Belly’ were repeated as demonstrators marched from Trafalgar Square to the US Embassy, through Battersea and then towards Latimer Road. Nine years on from the police murder of Mark Duggan, demonstrators were still demanding justice for him as they marched through Westminster, Knightsbridge and Chelsea; ‘Who killed Mark Duggan? The police killed Mark Duggan’ frequently echoed along the route.

As the march continued, blocking main roads and bridges, London made it abundantly clear that the protestors were not alone. Almost every bus driver along the route beeped their horn in solidarity with the marchers; as did postal vans, mopeds delivering food, and Uber drivers. People stood on balconies waving placards from previous marches, and passers-by cheered and clapped. If they didn’t, they were swiftly reminded that ‘Silence is violence’; to be silent is to be complicit.

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Photo: Lucy Nichols

It was only when the march got nearer to Grenfell that the police began to try and stop it. The entire demonstration had been punctuated by demands for ‘Justice for Grenfell’, a tragedy that showcases the true evils of the racist, classist British state. Police presence had been fairly minimal throughout the protest (other than outside the US Embassy), but as demonstrators peeled off and the march grew smaller (but more militant), the police presence increased dramatically. People marching were frequently forced to run around, or from swathes of police officers who kept appearing out of nowhere to block the route. Protestors twice forced their way through a wall of police officers, on the basis that ‘they can’t stop us all.’ Police officers were still very heavy-handed; especially with young black protestors who aired their frustrations directly to the state’s uniformed guard.

Eventually, the march reached Grenfell and fell silent. Though the police closed in at the foot of the tower, protestors stopped for a minute’s silence with raised fists to remember the 72 people who passed away - in a completely avoidable tragedy - almost exactly three years ago. It was on this note that some of the organisers of the protest addressed the two hundred or so people who remained. One organiser announced that the march had been the beginning of a revolution; that ‘2020 is the year of the revolution.’ Today’s Black Lives Matter protest seems to prove this sentiment, as working class protestors from all races took over the richest parts of London and were met with an overwhelming amount of unity and support.

Protests will continue throughout the week in London:

  • 1/06/2020, 1pm outside Marble Arch Tube station
  • 03/06/2020, 1pm in Hyde Park
  • 06/06/2020 1pm in Parliament Square
  • 07/06/2020 2pm outside the US Embassy

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