#BlackLivesMatter protest reaches St Albans’ Verulamium Park
- Credit: Archant
The #BlackLivesMatter movement came to St Albans on Friday evening, with thousands of people gathering in support of the international campaign.
The protest – organised by Sanya Qayyum and Chloe Christine – took place in Verulamium Park and saw an estimated 3,000 people attend.
Participants wore appropriate PPE and practised social distancing, with marshals in the park ensuring everyone’s safety.
The march was initially expected to begin at the Morrisons in Hatfield Road and to continue towards St Peter’s Street, however due to a high level of interest, the location was moved to the park.
Protests and demonstations have been ongoing across the UK following the tragic death of George Floyd in the US.
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A video of Mr Floyd’s death – which happened as a result of a police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes – sparked outrage and calls for an end to racism across the world.
Sanya addressed the crowd before handing over to a selection of other speakers including MP Daisy Cooper.
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She said: “The message is clear and the message is simple - black lives matter! That is not to say that other lives do not, but to acknowledge that the issues facing our society are many, so what we mustn’t do is compare our struggles. Today’s gathering is not one that ignores the prejudices faced by other minority groups, but today is a day when we are singling out the black community to make you fully aware that we are all with you.
“This is just the beginning! My black friends, do not fear, this is your fight, but you will not fight alone, we are with you!”
Another of the speakers, known only as Nommy, said: “George Floyd: another person killed because the colour of his skin deemed him inferior. The image of the white policeman with his knee on the black man’s neck painted a picture all on its own. Another reminder for black people that our reality is that discrimination against us is still very alive and very much real to this day...
“Enough is enough! We can’t breathe! Enough of the police brutality, enough of the overt racism, the covert racism... the oppression that we suffer every single day. The black community has snapped and we are pushing that knee off us and we are fighting back... It’s time for every body of every race to wake up and stand up and to say that enough is enough. ‘Get off!’”
She told the Herts Ad after the event: “We said Black Lives Matter, we never said only black lives matter, we know all lives matter, we just need your help with #blacklivesmatter because black lives are in danger.
“This peaceful protest was uplifting and empowering. The vibe and love was amazing with all nationalities from adults, teenagers and young children. No one was born with hate! St Albans city came together and those who did not approve stayed away. Some residents in local Facebook groups find it hard to support the cause and continuously say ‘All lives matter’ instead of recognising a problem with BLM community. It has become so bad that admins now on the two groups have had to turn off comments because of hate, disapproval and disgusting comments against BLM.
“However we remember Ignorance comes in all forms and change will happen whether one likes it or not. The support of MP Daisy Cooper is a beautiful thing and you could feel her words (goosebumps). Love and unity is what we ask for and I feel the protest has opened more people’s minds wanting to listen and learn. Thank you to everyone involved.”
Daisy Cooper added: “The shocking murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement has inspired people to action all around the world to demand equality for black people and people of colour. St Albans is no exception and we should be rightly proud that our local protest was peaceful, socially distanced and passionate.
“As the MP for St Albans, I am working with MPs from all parties to call on the government to take immediate action: to end the export of tear gas and rubber bullets to the US, to re-open the investigation into tragic death of Belly Mujinga and to release the COVID-19 report into the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on people who are black, Asian and from ethnic minority backgrounds. The government must also start tackling the systemic discrimination that exists in employment and health care, the white-washed nature of the British national school curriculum and racial disparities in the criminal justice system.
“Having previously worked in Commonwealth affairs for nearly ten years, I’ve seen the colonial legacy of the British Empire up-front, including anti-LGBT+ laws abroad that Britain put in place and which has led to a legacy of discrimination, violence and even death that persists around the world today. It’s vital that we have a national conversation to develop a more-rounded history of our history and historical figures - warts and all.”