#BlackLivesMatter London Protest: Sunday 7 June

London Student had the opportunity to attend the Black Lives Matter protest taking place on Sunday 7 June. The protest began on Nine Elms Lane, which leads to the U.S Embassy, with a whole street blocked off for tens of thousands of protesters according to Reuters. The atmosphere was electric, and inspiring. There were numerous chants of “Black Lives Matter” and “Say his name: George Floyd”, as well as chants of “Boris Johnson is a racist” and “Fuck Trump”, with the protesters calling for Johnson and Trump to step down as a result of the systemic racism many black and non-black people of colour (POC) face in the country.

Chants of ‘Black Lives Matter’ and a call and response of Say His/Her Name and George Floyd/Breonna Taylor, both of whom were killed by the police in the U.S | Michele Theil

After an hour of standing by the embassy, the protest turned and marched past Vauxhall station and across the bridge into Westminster. Protesters were handing out leaflets answering basic legal questions should they run into the police throughout the protest. One said: “You do not have to give you name and address under any stop and search power,” referring to recent reports that police were kettling protesters and forcing them to give up private information before allowing them to leave the area on Saturday 6 June.

Human rights charity Liberty are concerned by these reports and have suggested that this action by police was “potentially unlawful.”

Protesters chant ‘Boris Johnson’s a racist’ to the tune of Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes. The song has been used before to chant ‘Ooh Jeremy Corbyn’ at pro-Labour rallies.

There were a number of protests across the UK simultaneously, in Manchester and Bristol specifically – protesters in Bristol pulled down a statue of the slave trader Edward Colston and threw it into the river. Many have condemned the act but others have praised it as Colston was a known slave trader and was instrumental in making Bristol a major port for slavery. In London, protesters defaced the Winston Churchill statue in Parliament Square, crossing out his name with a black live and writing “was a racist” underneath.

We have chosen a number of images and videos from the Sunday protest to showcase in this article, and we want to reiterate that London Student stands with the Black Lives Matter movement and all those protesting for the fundamental rights of black and non-black POC everywhere.

Disclaimer: We have blurred the faces of protesters whose faces were easily visible in images to protect them from retribution or future arrest.

Since the weekend, many have been inspired by the Bristol protesters tearing down Colston’s statue. A number of other statues and monuments have been taken down or changed as a result:

After standing still for an hour, with inspiring speeches and chants for the cause, protesters sing Ludacris’ song ‘Move Bitch Get Out The Way’ to get people to start marching towards Vauxhall Bridge and across into Westminster. | Michele Theil

Some members of the public have taken to social media to criticise the removal of the statues, and the renaming of Liverpool’s student halls and Plymouth’s square. A lot of them are echoing similar thoughts, suggesting that the country is “too politically correct,” that we are “erasing our history,” and suggesting that the government is “giving in to extremists.” As of Tuesday 9 June, Netflix and the BBC have both decided to remove comedy show Little Britain from their streaming platforms, which has also encountered criticism. The show contains many homophobic, racist, transphobic and ableist jokes, as well as instances of black face.

Many black and non-black POC and their white allies are understandably very happy about these changes, especially with how quick the turnaround has been since the last protest, and following on from the biggest civil rights movement in the United States since Martin Luther King Jr. #BlackLivesMatter.

Photography and videography credit: Michele Theil

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