If you just so happened to watch the news on Wednesday night or have a scroll through Instagram or Twitter, you were probably inundated with headlines and videos of how a peaceful protest in London turned violent.
If you weren’t at that protest, you may have been quick to form an opinion and condemn those who decided to take to the streets during the global coronavirus pandemic to demand justice for black people everywhere.
But I was at that protest. I saw how peaceful it really was. I saw how everyone came together to show their passion, their frustration, their support – and it was anything but violent.
Until yesterday, I’d never actually been to a protest or a demonstration so I didn’t exactly know what to expect, but I was keen to educate myself and be a part of something that feels so important right now.
Without sounding dramatic, watching the news over the past few days has had quite an effect on my mental health – as I’m sure it has for many people. I find it hard to put into words how I felt when I first watched the video of George Floyd being brutally murdered by a white police officer. I’ve struggled to watch it again since.
I’ve always been thankful that I was brought up by parents who taught me you should never judge anyone by the colour of their skin. But although I know I’m not racist, I do know that I am privileged just by having white skin and I will never know how it feels to be the subject of racism – and the protest felt like a vital way in which I could educate myself.
As I arrived at Marble Arch just after 1pm, the streets were already filled with people of all ages and races wearing red and clutching their handmade signs – and it felt wonderful to see so many people cared and had gone out of their way to come together. I should add that pretty much everyone was wearing masks – but of course, keeping a 2m distance was impossible.
As we gathered in the park and the chants began, we sat on the grass, we kneeled, we clapped, and although it all felt very positive, you could still feel the seriousness of the situation. Chants varied from shouting George Floyd’s name over and over again and “F**k Boris, f**k Trump”, to “No justice, no peace, no racist police” and, of course, “Black Lives Matter”.
As the march began and we headed down Park Lane, past Hyde Park Corner and down to Victoria Station and then Westminster, I can honestly say I didn’t witness any violence, aggression, or bad behaviour. But what I did see was passion. As men and women used megaphones for their voices to be heard, parents marched with their young children, builders stopped working and stood in silence on the pavement, and bus drivers showed their support by tooting their horns.
Although I wasn’t holding a homemade sign or a megaphone, I did clap at every opportunity and it really did feel amazing to be a part of something so important – and to show the black community that I stand with them and agree that A LOT needs to change – not just in America, but in the UK as well.
It’s a shame that some people feel the need to focus on the fights that broke out at Downing Street in the evening, as I personally don’t think that those individuals represented the majority of who was marching on Wednesday.
But what I do know is that black lives DO matter, and George Floyd was just one of my many innocent people who has lost their life due to the colour of their skin. And is has to stop. If you don’t feel comfortable taking part in any up coming protests due to Covid-19, then please click here and see how you can help in other ways from home.