“Black Lives Matter” was the chant heard across Bedford Park today as hundreds gathered peacefully and with social distance in mind to protest against racism in all its forms.
The event organised by Liana-Beatrice Valerio, in collaboration with Stand Up to Racism, Bedford and Legacy of the Windrush Descendants, invited people to show their solidarity with other peaceful Black Lives Matter protests around the world.
Speaking at the event, Rosie Newbigging, of Stand Up To Racism Bedford, said, “We need to remove the chokehold against Black people everywhere and we need to do it now.
“We have got to keep fighting and see absolute and immediate change. Go back into your communities, go back into your workplace, go back into your neighbourhoods and fight for Black Lives.”
Police at the event estimated around 350 people attended the event, all spaced out to observe social distancing and almost all wearing masks to support anti-covid measures.
After opening speeches the gathered crowd raised their voices and chanted for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the time Derek Chauvin spent with his knee on George Floyd’s neck.
A minute’s silence then followed with people ‘taking a knee’ against or standing in defiance at police brutality and racism the world over.
The silence was broken with an address by MP Yamfam.
Speaking to the crowd, he echoed the opening of Martin Luther King Jr’s ‘I have a Dream Speech’, “I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.”
The local poet then continued, “My cousins, who could pass as white, regardless of the way they speak, dress or address are significantly safer than I could ever fathom.
“On the contrary I must try not to be a target for the modern day laws… statistically called ‘Stop and Search Mainly Black People’…
“I must carefully select my speech, perfect my dress, second third and fourth guess every action, often leading to inaction thus stunting any chance of progress.
“While being bombarded with the false belief that this is a fair world and that all men and women are created equal.”
The protest in Bedford Park is just one of thousands of mostly peaceful protests that have taken place across the world in response the killing of Black man George Floyd.
Four former police officers have been charged in connection with the death.
Derek Chauvin (44), who pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, faces a new charge of second-degree murder after previously being charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Thomas Lane (37) and J. Alexander Kueng (26), who helped restrain Floyd, and Tou Thao (34), who stood near the others, have also now been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
- Correction: This article was amended on 8 June 2020 to replace “[Whites]” with “My cousins, who could pass as white…” in the quote from MP Yamfam. At his request we also now refer to his words as an ‘address’ not a ‘poem’.