Black Lives Matter protests continued in cities and towns all over the country for a fourth week
For the fourth weekend in a row, protesters took to the streets of London to demand an end to the vicious racism of the British State. Gathering first in Hyde Park, protesters at various stations in the park were given megaphones to air their opinions and ‘speak their minds’, as one of the organisers described it. Despite this seeming like a fairly risky idea – essentially an open mic at a protest – the people handed the megaphone were largely unified in their message: racism is a structural problem, deeply ingrained in British society; this is why we must protest.
Though some sections of the protest wanted to appeal to Boris Johnson, the majority of the protesters asserted that Johnson isn’t – by any stretch of the imagination – on our side. As we began to march from Hyde Park on towards Parliament Square, we were accompanied by music and chants, such as ‘No justice, no peace’ and ‘Munira Mirza must go’ - the latter in reference to the head of the Government’s new inquiry into racism, who doesn’t believe that institutional racism exists.
The march continued past the heavily guarded statue of Churchill (which is no longer in a box) and on to Trafalgar Square, where the organisers led some more chanting, before the protesters eventually dispersed after a long day of marching, speaking, and demanding an end to systemic racism.
How protests re-emerged in lockdown was always going to be interesting. For weeks we all had to use our imagination to picture how this would occur. Two weekends ago in Glasgow, up to 14,000 people spilled on to Glasgow Green to make a demand that "Black Lives Matter" and as one placard rightfully said, to try and ensure that "this is the last generation you will pick on”.
Then last weekend we witnessed something rarely seeing in Glasgow. Far right activists with loyalist support gathered in George Square and attacked an anti-racist gathering. The initial BLM protest was to demand the statue of Sir Robert Peel founder of the Police no longer stand over us.
On Wednesday a pro-immigration demonstration organised by the city's "No Evictions Network" was attacked in George Square. On Saturday in Glasgow hundreds joined another gathering in George Square organised by anti-racist and socialist organisations and individuals who have being involved in these struggles collectively for decades.
This was my first walk into George Square since lockdown began. This was a journey that was always going to be emotional. It was great to see the turnout in response to the right’s provocations.
Two things are required in Glasgow. The demands of the BLM movement need to be taken up by the wider labour movement as vigorously as possible. Secondly, we need to campaign as strongly as possible to make sure working people don’t pay for the looming economic crisis. A strong socialist presence is going to be necessary to oppose racism and sectarianism and to take a lead in this fight.
Hundreds of Black Lives Matter protestors gathered in Times Square in Newcastle for a demonstration that was lively, diverse and family friendly, with well-observed social distancing. Protesters were keen to avoid the type of confrontation that was seen last Saturday at Newcastle’s Grey’s Monument, when around 300 far right supporters held a violent counter-protest.
The now-familiar chants of ‘black lives matter’ and ‘no justice, no peace’ rang out around the Square, accompanied by live drumming and people dancing which helped to keep spirits high. The demonstration passed off peacefully and without an appearance from the fascists who tried to derail the message last week.
The speakers were passionate and stressed that there is still a long way to go before we have the equality that all people deserve. It was argued that education in schools and wider society is important if there is to be lasting social change. There was a palpable anger at the way in which BAME people are treated in society - locally, nationally and globally - with calls for solidarity to change the system that causes this discrimination and abuse.
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