A Black Lives Matter protest planned for tomorrow (Saturday June 13) in Hyde Park has been called off after concerns of possible conflict between Black Lives Matters activists and far-right demonstrators.
Last week saw Londoners come together across the city in protests against the death of George Floyd. The 46-year-old black man was killed after being arrested and restrained by police in the US city of Minneapolis.
There have been more Black Lives Matter protests this week, with demonstrations in Green Park on Wednesday (June 10) and today (Friday June 12) in Hyde Park.
Writing on Instagram, @blmldnmovement, which says in its profile that it’s not organising any protests, said this morning that Saturday’s protest had been called off because of ‘many hate groups threatening the safety of protesters’.
It continued: ‘We believe it’s best if Saturdays protest at Hyde park doesn’t happen. As you all may have heard, Tommy Robinson, ex-leader of the EDL has said that he, and many of his supporters, will be attending Saturdays protest to express their anger over the toppling of the statue and overall oppose the BLM message. We want the protests to be a safe space for people to attend however we don’t think it’ll be possible with people like them present.’
While the protest has been called off, there are ways you can show your support from home. Poster My Wall has put together a selection of free-to-download posters, which you can display in your homes. Or you could design your own.
You can also show support through your social-media channels. Black Lives Matter has released graphics for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and is encouraging people to use these as their profile pictures to show solidarity with the movement.
If you’re able to donate to organisations helping to fight racism in the UK, we’ve rounded up a (by no means exhaustive) list of anti-racism charities and organisations, including Black Lives Matter UK, which has so far raised more than £800,000, StopWatch UK, which has been fighting the racially disproportionate use of stop and search since 2010, and the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, which works to support disadvantaged young people.
Beyond donating to charities and grassroots organisations, if you’re looking for long-term ways to show solidarity, actively supporting black-owned businesses is a good place to start. We’ve put together a guide to some useful resources which highlight black-owned businesses, including everything from fashion to food. If you’re after books specifically, check out our guide to black-owned bookshops in London, which need your support more than ever right now.
While the original protest won’t be going ahead as planned this Saturday, another event will be taking place at 12.30pm at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park. Antifascists out to support Black Lives Matter is being organised by various groups including Momentum, Labour Against Racism and Fascism and RS21 North London.
There will also be various local protests over the weekend. Residents of Islington and Hackney are being invited to come together from 2pm to 6pm at Newington Green Roundabout, with plans to take the knee at 3pm. In Croydon, there will be a peaceful protest at the George Street intersection from noon until 2pm. People attending are encouraged to wear masks, gloves, bring hand sanitiser and observe social-distancing rules.
However, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has appealed to Londoners not to take part in any protests this weekend. In a statement, he said: ‘I stand with the millions of people around the world who are saying loud and clear that Black Lives Matter. Londoners from all ages, races and backgrounds have been coming together to protest racial injustice and structural racism. It is clear that the majority of the protestors have been peaceful. This moment must be a catalyst for systemic, lasting change to tackle the racism and inequalities that black people still face today, in this country and elsewhere.
‘However, I’m extremely concerned that further protests in central London not only risk spreading Covid-19, but could lead to disorder, vandalism and violence. Extreme far-right groups who advocate hatred and division are planning counter-protests, which means that the risk of disorder is high. Be in no doubt these counter-protests are there to provoke violence, and their only goal is to distract and hijack this important issue. Staying home and ignoring them is the best response this weekend.’
My message to Londoners: please do not take to the streets to protest this weekend.— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) June 12, 2020
For yourselves, for family members, who may be vulnerable to Covid-19, and for the wider cause: stay home and find a safe way to make your voice heard.#BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/4LIPBL3ChB
Want to help document this moment? Black Cultural Archives is asking Londoners to share photos and videos from the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests.
In other news, a campaign has been reignited for a London slavery memorial in Hyde Park to commemorate enslaved Africans and their descendants.