Today, the people of the UK said, “enough is enough.” We have to use this moment to create long-lasting and meaningful change. Thousands of people took to the streets of London today to protest for the beginning of a new dawn.
Crowds carried placards emblazoned with the names of men and women who were killed because of the colour of their skin. Signs targeted the failings of the system, the privileges and freedoms denied to black people and the shocking statistics that speak volumes. “Black people are 4 times more likely to be tasered,” one read. “The colour of my skin should not place a target on my back,” said another.
In Hyde Park, Star Wars actor John Boyega joined thousands of protestors to give an emotional speech about the death of George Floyd and others like him. “We are a physical representation of our support for George Floyd,” he told the crowd. “We are a physical representation of our support for Sandra Bland. We are a physical representation of our support for Trayvon Martin. We are a physical representation of our support for Stephen Lawrence.”
“Today is about innocent people who were halfway through their process,” he continued, “we don’t know what George Floyd could have achieved, we don’t know what Sandra Bland could have achieved, but today we’re going to make sure that won’t be an alien thought to our young ones,” he said.
It’s been nine days since George Floyd’s life was taken by a white Minnesota police officer, named as Derek Chauvin, who knelt on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes until he stopped breathing. His crime? Allegedly using a counterfit $20 bill to buy cigarettes.
Four days after Chauvin walked free from the scene, and a mass outcry later, he was charged with third degree murder. As for the three other officers that helped pin George down? George lost his life. They lost their jobs. No further punishment.
Of course, this isn’t the first time police brutality and racism have needlessly ended the life of a person of colour and, sadly, it’s not likely to be the last. It’s the tip of a deep-rooted and entrenched iceberg of systemic oppression and racism.
“I need you to understand how painful this s**t is. I need you to understand how painful it is to be reminded every day that your race means nothing and that isn’t the case anymore, that was never the case anymore.”
He cautioned crowds warning, “keep this as peaceful as possible. They want us to mess up, they want us to be disorganised but not today.”
Action, is the only way forward. An Instagram post is not enough. “To be part of the cure of the sickness of racism you have to put your money, voice and body on the line,” Ateh Jewel told GLAMOUR when she shared ways we should all be actively trying to make a difference. Protesting – using your voice and your presence – is just one of them.