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Protesters take the knee in London | Photo: Yonas Makoni

Protesters take the knee in London | Photo: Yonas Makoni

Protesters take to the streets around the country to stand strong against racism and to call out Tory hypocrisy

London – Yonas Makoni

Protesters gathered at Downing Street at 3pm on Saturday for a demonstration against racism and in support of the black football players Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, who were subject to racial abuse following last week’s England game.

The crowd assembled around the Montgomery statue, where several speakers, including MP Diane Abbot, gave speeches to chants of ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘no justice, no peace’. The speakers emphasised the connection between the government’s policies and violent racism, but also the necessity of the unity of working people across races. Just before 4pm, the protesters gathered in front of Downing Street to take the knee – an anti-racist symbol recently dismissed by Priti Patel as ‘gesture politics’.

The past week’s events have shown the depth of the anti-racist mood in Britain. We need to keep exposing the racism at the heart of the Tory government and the necessity of united action.

Diane Abbott addresses London demo
Photo: Yonas Makoni
Anti-racist protest London
Photo: Yonas Makoni

 

Manchester – Chris Neville

About 150 people gathered in Manchester today for a protest and march organised by Stand Up to Racism.

The protest started at St Peter's Square just after 1pm and protesters consisted of a diverse mix of ages and ethnicities holding placards with messages of 'Black Lives Matter' and 'Kill the Bill'.

From there, a march through the City Centre took place, down Corporation Street, towards the National Football Museum. The PCS Samba Band joined, providing a noisy backbone which chants of 'Black lives matter' and 'No justice, no peace' could ring out from.

Outside the National Football Museum, there were further speeches and a taking of the knee which lasted for several minutes. Speakers included local anti-racist activists plus Chantelle Lunt and others from Merseyside BLM Alliance, and focused heavily on the racist abuse suffered by England's black footballers in the wake of the Euro final.

The taking of the knee occurred in the middle of a busy road and stopped traffic for some time. The City Centre was incredibly busy, as would be expected on a Saturday afternoon, and there were plenty of onlookers who seemed overwhelmingly supportive with some gathering to hear the speeches and applauding the anti-racist messaging.

The mass outpouring of solidarity for Rashford, Saka and Sancho we have seen this week has caused huge problems for those in power who had hoped to keep us divided. Let's keep pushing and show them our strength in numbers can't be matched.

sutr manchester protest
Photo: Chris Neville
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Photo: Chris Neville

 

Selhurst Park – Peter Bird

A large number of people congregated at Selhurst Park, home of Crystal Palace football Club, on Saturday 17th July to express solidarity with Rashford, Saka, and Sancho – the three England players who were recently subjected to a torrent of racist abuse – and with all targets of such abuse.

The event was convened by Stand Up To Racism South London, Croydon Stand Up To Racism, and Eagles Against Racism and Fascism, a fan-based group.

In the recent background to this, Prime Minister Johnson appeared to defend the footballers on Twitter.  However, this is the same man who has previously referred to black people as ‘picaninnies’ and described Muslim women who wear the burka as looking like ‘letterboxes’.

England footballer Tyrone Mings hit back at Home Secretary Priti Patel for similar insincerity saying she had stoked the fire by dismissing the England team for taking the knee against racism as ‘gesture politics’.

Keir Starmer, who would have us believe he supports black people in this matter, recently referred to the Black Lives Matter campaign as a ‘moment’.

Many people on Saturday carried placards calling for an end to racism and holding government members to account for hypocrisy.

Tim, from Wandsworth Stand up to Racism, said that demonstrations like this one were essential since combating racism could not be left to mainstream politicians.

Fran from South London Stand up to Racism said that she didn’t particularly follow football and was ashamed at the racism aimed at these players but took strength from the push back from our multi-ethnic society.

A local person attending the demonstration said that football grounds were used by racist and far right groups to try and recruit and that it was essential that we combat this.

Michael, a member of Eagles Against Racism and Fascism said their pressure had resulted in racist banners being barred from matches.

The passionate group took the knee in an expression of strength and defiance and chanted anti-racist slogans. Many of them departed intending to go to a similar event outside 10 Downing Street later in the day.

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Photo: Peter Bird

 

Hackney – Orlando da Rocha Hill

In the build up to Saturday’s demo at Downing Street, Hackney Stand Up to Racism organised their own demonstration at Hackney Town Hall. Although the crowd gathered was small, it attracted much attention and support from the passing public. Secondary students on their way from school stopped to take part, getting the crowd to shout “black lives matter!”

Banners from the NEU, Unison and Hackney Trade Union Council were present. The Deputy Mayor, Anntoinette Bramble was the first to speak, pointing out that the abuse that the three players suffered highlights the vile racism that is still in our society and has to be addressed. 

Dean Ryan, one of the organisers, admitted that Priti Patel as an Asian obviously must have experienced racism “specially from within her own party.” However, if she did really want to make a difference, she should stop approving laws that encourage the drowning of refugees that try to come to our country. She should pay justice to the Windrush generation. She should stop approving laws that criminalise young black people. He ended his speech stating, “I have more respect for Marcus Rashford who doesn’t forget where he comes from.”  

A representative from Hackney NEU reminded us that it was Marcus Rashford who “forced the government to feed children during the summer”. For that he received a special award from the NEU. 

After the speeches those present took the knee and held their fists up in the air.

sutr-hackney-1.jpg
Photo: Orlando da Rocha Hill
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Photo: Orlando da Rocha Hill

 

Emirates Stadium - Orlando da Rocha Hill

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Photo: Orlando da Rocha Hill
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Photo: Orlando da Rocha Hill

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