“Institutional racism is ingrained in housing, health care, the education system, the media, fashion and beauty,” Imarn Ayton, 29, told the crowd through a megaphone. “It is rooted in recruitment and employment, politics, the police, immigration and the criminal justice system.
“He is seen but you cannot see him. It is everywhere but it is nowhere … Today is the day when we say goodbye to institutional racism. “
Some protesters then went to the Home Office, led by a group of drummers, to seek justice for the Windrush generation. A larger group stayed in Westminster.
Holding banners stating “there is a virus superior to Covid-19 and this is called racism” and “funding the police”, protesters called for early education on colonialism in schools and to put end the disproportionate use of arrests and searches.
“The mentality of the police has to change, they have to be informed that it’s not good, arresting and searching is a great example of racism in the UK,” said a 24-year-old protester who preferred to remain anonymous.
“They target black people, they target minorities, they know what they are doing … And we need to teach children how the UK has been funded by racism and [just like] America. “
Alex Kouam, 29, from West London, led chants calling for justice as a group of protesters passed Buckingham Palace.
“Obviously, the UK is not innocent,” he said. “The Lammy report highlighted a number of differences in the criminal justice system regarding blacks and ethnic minorities. But of course, the government did not act. This is a clear indication of institutional racism in the UK. “
There was a police presence in London, as elsewhere, after several clashes this week between officers and a handful of demonstrators. Several police officers knelt on Wednesday in solidarity. but Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick told the police not to start again.
Thousands of people have also attended demonstrations in Manchester, Sheffield, Glasgow, Cardiff, Leicester and in many other cities in the UK to demand an end to systemic racism and in solidarity with George Floyd, the black man who died after a white police officer. he knelt on his neck in Minneapolis almost a fortnight ago.
Singing, clapping in unison and holding homemade signs with the initials BLM, a crowd filled Piccadilly Square in Manchester to listen to the speakers. They fell silent at 1:45 p.m. and knelt to pay homage to Floyd.
World heavyweight champion boxer Anthony Joshua joined the protest in his hometown of Watford.
Several hundred walkers gathered in Newcastle while thousands more watched an online protest held in the northeast. Dr. Christina Mobley, a history professor who came to the University of Newcastle from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, attended her five-year-old daughter.
The historian, who is leading a decolonization project for the university curriculum, said: “I absolutely felt the need to be here today. The organizers have done an incredible job. It’s really powerful to see such a young and motivated crowd going out and organizing, distributing masks and working with the police. ”
Many wore face covers and gloves because they ignored warnings from senior government ministers and police chiefs not to attend large rallies for fear of transmission of the coronavirus.
Interior Minister Priti Patel said on Saturday that although she understands the right to protest, the UK is in the midst of a pandemic.
“I would say to those who want to protest: please don’t do it,” she said, echoing Secretary of Health Matt Hancock. “The regulations are very clear in terms of rallies and mass gatherings in particular. We must prioritize public health at this very moment. “