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Anti-racist protest, Rashford mural, Manchester

Anti-racist protest, Rashford mural, Manchester. Photo: Sabina Ofori-Kuragu

A demonstration in Manchester met the recent and widespread racist abuse by football fans of the England team’s Black players with unity and support, reports Sabina Ofori-Kuragu

Hundreds of protesters gathered by the newly-restored Marcus Rashford mural in Withington, Manchester this Tuesday.

The mural was defaced by graffiti as part of the torrent of discriminatory comments, social media posts, and acts of violence by some football supporters that followed England's loss to Italy in the final of the Euro 2020 tournament, directed towards three of the team's Black players (Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka) after they failed to score during a penalty shootout. It's since been restored and covered by posters, letters, pictures, and drawings of support for the player it depicts.

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Messages of support on Marcus Rashford mural, Manchester. Photo: Sabina Ofori-Kuragu

Ranging from children to activists and political figures with years of experience, those who spoke to the crowd focused on how much of an inspiration Black players like Rashford are as well as what an impact they and their legacies have on communities and young people alike.

Many criticised the hypocrisy of the Conservative government in feigning outrage over the recent actions of racists, considering the discriminatory rhetoric of many of their members and the party’s track record of hostile policies towards people of colour, all of which have enabled the very violence they are now claiming to condemn.

Attendees Nikita and Deja spoke to me about how "Manchester is a city of love", that they were brought to tears by the almost overwhelming support from the community that came after what has been a scary time for them and other people of colour, many of whom have unfortunately been targeted by those angered by Sunday's match.

Tuesday's demonstration was a shining example of how even though we're far from ending racism, the movement that's working to bring about change, and the love, support and power that unites it, is stronger than ever.

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