Black Lives Matter Zagreb
© Anja Mutić

PHOTOS/VIDEO: Croatia shows solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement through protest

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Written by
Lara Rasin
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A Black Lives Matter protest was held in Zagreb on Tuesday, June 8th at 6pm. Crowds slowly began to form around 5:30pm.

Black Lives Matter Zagreb
Small crowds already began forming around 5:30pm© Lara Rasin

By 6pm, hundreds of people arrived to show solidarity with the global anti-racism movement.

The protest was led by the African Society of Croatia (Društvo Afrikanaca u Hrvatskoj - abbreviated DAH, which means "breath" in Croatian) and a Croatian organisation called the Initiative Against Police Brutality and Racism. 

Chants such as "George Floyd", "Black Lives Matter", and "I can't breathe" were led by organisers throughout the protest, in tandem with sign-holding crowds who echoed their words.

Ms. Lynder Musimbi Libese, born in Kenya and living in Zagreb for the past eight years, opened the protest by reading aloud the last words of Mr. George Floyd, who was murdered on May 25 of this year. Among other speakers from the African Society of Croatia, she spoke multiple times throughout the protest and closed it as well. During one speech, she stated:

"The world needs to know I'm a proud black woman. A mother. A sister. A friend. I contribute to my society. I pay taxes. I'm educated. I don't want your pity. I don't want you to give me handouts. I'm not a criminal and I'm not your enemy. I want justice, fairness, opportunity, just like you. Don't kill me, don't kill us. I am human."

Black Lives Matter Zagreb
© Lara Rasin

Between speeches, a moment of silence lasting a few minutes was marked in honour of Mr. Floyd. The crowds were silent and all took a knee as a sign of respect.

Mr. Awudi Atitsogbui from the African Society of Croatia later remarked the following:

"The capacity to love all beings regardless of race is the purest expression of intelligence", before sparking off a crowd-wide singalong with the words "There's a beautiful song by a legend, Oliver Dragojević, in Croatia", cheerfully adding "I'm not so good with the language but I can manage with a song. Please, you can join in. Vjeruj u ljubav."

With Mr. Awudi Atitsogbui leading on the microphone, the crowd sang along:

Vjeruj u ljubav jer ljubav je sve,
Vjeruj u ljubav ne živi bez nje,
Vjeruj u ljubav i sačuvaj nju,
Vjeruj u ljubav u dobru i zlu.
Vjeruj u ljubav i sačuvaj nju,
Vjeruj u ljubav u dobru i zlu.

("Believe in love because love is everything,
Believe in love do not live without it,
Believe in love and keep it safe,
Believe in love in good and evil.
Believe in love and keep it safe,
Believe in love in good and evil.")

[Mr. Oliver Dragojević (December 7, 1947 - July 29, 2018) was a renowned Croatian singer from Split.]

All speeches given were emotional and powerful, eliciting tears from both speakers and crowd members. During the second half of the protest, traditional drum music and dancing were led by members of the African Society of Croatia.

Members of the Initiative Against Police Brutality and Racism additionally remarked:

"We refuse to participate in the politics of destroying life. We want to be a part of politics of solidarity, of a fight for freedom and economic equality, and of a society that condemns all forms of violence and racist expression as well as the imposition of supremacy."

and

"We are witnesses of the criminalization of brown and black lives on our borders and of unprecedented violence perpetrated by the Croatian police both at the borders and deep within the Croatian territory. Systemic racism is a feature of our society, too. And it's most evident in regards to migrants, Roma people, and Serbian people. This is why we must stand side-by-side with our friends and not allow violence to be carried out on our behalf against those of other skin colors and ethnicities."

Black Lives Matter Zagreb
© Lara Rasin

The protest lasted around 60 minutes in total. 

#BlackLivesMatter

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