Black Lives Matter: 400 Stevenage protestors turn out in stand against racism

PUBLISHED: 12:27 08 June 2020 | UPDATED: 09:20 09 June 2020

Hundreds turned out to peacefully protest in Stevenage. Picture: Dazza Haggerty

Hundreds turned out to peacefully protest in Stevenage. Picture: Dazza Haggerty

Archant

More than 400 peaceful protestors marched on Stevenage parks over the weekend in a stand against racism, and the murder of George Floyd.

Hundreds turned out to peacefully protest in Stevenage. Picture: Dazza HaggertyHundreds turned out to peacefully protest in Stevenage. Picture: Dazza Haggerty

On Saturday, hundreds of Black Lives Matter protestors marched and chanted through Fairlands Valley Park, followed by Sunday’s peaceful vigil at St George V field.

Peaceful protestors arrived armed with signs and tributes to George Floyd, as speakers from the town’s black community shared emotional speeches, and demanded further action against police brutality.

Hundreds turned out to peacefully protest in Stevenage. Picture: Dazza HaggertyHundreds turned out to peacefully protest in Stevenage. Picture: Dazza Haggerty

In an extraordinary moment on Sunday, protestors took a knee for eight minutes and 46 seconds – the length of time Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin had his knee pressed on George Floyd’s neck – while chanting in unison ‘I can’t breathe’ – Floyd’s now infamous final words.

Stevenage councillor Joshua Bennett-Lovell attended both protests, and hailed the “peaceful” nature of the protestors.

Hundreds turned out to peacefully protest in Stevenage. Picture: Dazza HaggertyHundreds turned out to peacefully protest in Stevenage. Picture: Dazza Haggerty

“Being in a large field with three-metre physical distancing in place, and people wearing masks and using hand sanitiser, it shows we can still organise against racism, and continue our struggles for justice,” he said.

“The organisers should be proud of calling these actions, and I send my love, support and solidarity with everyone, however they are able to – rising up, demonstrating, marching, and combating racism the world over.”

Hundreds turned out to peacefully protest in Stevenage. Picture: Dazza HaggertyHundreds turned out to peacefully protest in Stevenage. Picture: Dazza Haggerty

Stevenage BeMe member Michelle Gardner, said it was “incredible” seeing so many stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Michelle said: “We know racism exists and we know racism is actively used to preclude many from equality of treatment, whether in employment or education.

Hundreds turned out to peacefully protest in Stevenage. Picture: Dazza HaggertyHundreds turned out to peacefully protest in Stevenage. Picture: Dazza Haggerty

“We know black people in large towns and cities are more likely to be stopped and searched than their white counterparts – we need to ask those difficult questions.

“In order to change attitudes we need to understand why it exists.”

Hundreds turned out to peacefully protest in Stevenage. Picture: Dazza HaggertyHundreds turned out to peacefully protest in Stevenage. Picture: Dazza Haggerty

Stevenage BeMe member Esron Tomlinson added: “Racism is evil, and has no place in our society. It is about time we all come together and stand up against racism, and eradicate it once and for all. Your voice matters, silence is complicity.”

BeMe – which organised and mobilised this weekend’s protests – is a newly formed organisation in Stevenage with the aim of serving and representing the town’s black community.

Hundreds turned out to peacefully protest in Stevenage. Picture: Dazza HaggertyHundreds turned out to peacefully protest in Stevenage. Picture: Dazza Haggerty

BeMe chair, Getrude Acheampong, said: “This organisation has been set up at the right time to install confidence back to the black community of Stevenage.

“We will start with small projects and we will grow. We are confident the general public will support us to achieve our goal.”

Hundreds turned out to peacefully protest in Stevenage. Picture: Dazza HaggertyHundreds turned out to peacefully protest in Stevenage. Picture: Dazza Haggerty

Hundreds turned out to peacefully protest in Stevenage. Picture: Dazza HaggertyHundreds turned out to peacefully protest in Stevenage. Picture: Dazza Haggerty

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Hundreds turned out to peacefully protest in Stevenage. Picture: Dazza HaggertyHundreds turned out to peacefully protest in Stevenage. Picture: Dazza Haggerty

Hundreds turned out to peacefully protest in Stevenage. Picture: Dazza HaggertyHundreds turned out to peacefully protest in Stevenage. Picture: Dazza Haggerty


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