Black Lives Matter protesters keep up anti-racist pressure on London streets

Demonstrators want to keep global movement in public consciousness

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Black Lives Matter protesters marched in London on Sunday in continuing efforts to keep the media spotlight and public awareness focused on their global anti-racism movement.

Nine weeks ago, demonstrations erupted in the US over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in police custody.

Footage showing Floyd's killing caused a wave of solidarity protests across the world and reignited debate in many countries about the continuing effect of structural racism.

On Sunday in London, hundreds of protesters marched from the centre of city to the US embassy, finishing in nearby Vauxhall.

Demonstrators displayed banners that read, “End police brutality” and “Fight racism, fight imperialism”.

“The UK is not innocent," the protesters chanted. "Your silence is violent. No justice, no peace, no racist police."

As the march, organised by the All Black Lives UK group, set off from Marble Arch, speakers addressed police brutality in the US and UK and declared their solidarity with the BLM movement across the Atlantic.

The protesters also spoke aloud the names of victims of police brutality and racist violence in Britain and America: Breonna Taylor, Mark Duggan, Belly Mujinga, George Floyd and Sarah Reed, among others.

One of the demonstrators, Emmanuel Onapa, 20, told The National he was committed to maintaining the energy of previous BLM events.

“I am just trying to keep momentum within the black community so that we can fight for justice in our own land because the UK is not innocent,” he said.

Mr Onapa, a campaign manager for a youth group in Hackney, said he had personally felt the effects of police racism and had been left traumatised by an arbitrary stop and search two years ago.

“Whenever I hear police sirens I quake, I shake, and it is one of those things where I shouldn't be doing that because I am university student now," he said.

"I am living a criminal-free life. We feel a sense of injustice that needs to be accounted for.

"We just want justice, we just want peace. It's our human rights.”

People march as they attend a Black Lives Matter protest in London, Sunday, July 12, 2020, in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, USA last month. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
People march as they attend a Black Lives Matter protest in London, Sunday, July 12, 2020, after the killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, US, last month. AP

Elsewhere in London, protesters gathered in Oxford Circus where they mingled with demonstrators marching in support of the pro-Palestine movement.

In other European capitals including Paris and Berlin, protesters also gathered in their hundreds.

In the town of Val-d’ Oise outside Paris, demonstrators remembered the life of Adama Traore, a Malian French man who died in police custody in 2016.

Across Europe, the impetus of the BLM movement has forced nations to re-evaluate their colonial pasts.

Instances of police abuse and misconduct have also come under renewed scrutiny.

Footage that showed the arrest of black man Marcus Coutain, 48, and bore a striking similarity to the tragic arrest of George Floyd has provoked a public backlash.

In the video, a London police officer is shown briefly applying pressure to Mr Coutain’s neck as he is handcuffed in Islington, North London, on Thursday evening.

His lawyer has demanded an apology from the Metropolitan police, saying the case “mirrors almost identically what happened to George Floyd”.