Content Warning: Racism
Despite the current coronavirus outbreak, protesters came together in peaceful protest and vigil against police brutality, the murder of George Floyd in the USA and institutional racism from America to the UK.
At 5pm, crowds began to assemble in Guildhall Square, wearing masks, gloves and keeping their distance from one another for the most part. Large crowds came together, lead by speakers from BLMSouthampton (@blmsouthampton on Instagram) with approximately 1500 in the crowd.
Those protesting carried signs saying “The UK is Not Innocent”, “Justice4BellyMujinga”, “We Can’t Breathe” and many more phrases reflecting the struggles of black communities around the world.
There was a low police presence and each time they passed, some Southampton bus drivers sounded their horns in solidarity with the cheering and chanting crowds.
We spoke to some of the protesters, some of whom chose not to give their names. We asked them what brought them to the protest, and one protester, Michelle said:
It’s like a show of solidarity, like activism, being able to communicate in an easier environment, whilst online is a swarm of so many voices and so much misinformation… It is a lot easier to have these conversations s in real life.
Protesters felt strongly that despite the coronavirus outbreak, there was still a need for physical and vocal protest. Another protester, Sam, said:
“It’s a show of support, it’s a show of solidarity, it is sending a message that it is not okay to exclude people, or hold prejudices in a modern society.”
The accessibility of physical protest in light of Covid-19 was touched on by one protester, Shreya, who said:
We just want to be a voice for people who couldn’t also be here because of everything that is going on, a lot of people can’ leave their house and we are able to.
Those we spoke to also commented on how surprised they were at the number of people who had turned out in support. One anonymous protester also commented that he was protesting today due to the racism he had experienced.
I feel like being here today is important for the black community. I have experienced racism from when I was a baby…to secondary school. This is more than just George Floyd, this is telling everyone that black lives matter.
Black Lives Matter Southampton plan to announce more protests in the near future. You can keep in touch with them via their Facebook page or Instagram, @blmsouthampton.
If you were unable to attend yesterday’s protest but still want to show solidarity, please donate to the GoFundMe set up in the name of Belly Mujinga.