On Thursday 4th June around 700 protesters gathered at the Hanley Park bandstand after a demonstration was called by the Stoke Black Lives Matter group. The protest was called following the horrific murder of George Floyd by a white police officer and his colleagues in Minnesota.
The demonstration heard speeches from a variety of people who spoke passionately about their experiences of racism, with one exclaiming ‘Enough is enough!’ Many people spoke about wanting to express their solidarity, and a NorSCARF member talked about the vibrant tradition of anti-racism in Stoke. Others performed rap and poetry.
Following the speeches the organisers called for a minute silence, and the whole crowd got down on one knee, with many raising their fists in a moving moment of reflection. After this there was a fast-paced, loud and defiant march around Hanley Park, with chants of ‘I can’t breathe!’ and ‘No justice, no peace!’ ringing out. After meeting back at the bandstand, people began to file away peacefully. The organisers did a fantastic job of encouraging people to socially distance and wear face masks, and the police, who were hardly present at all, even felt the need to commend people’s behaviour throughout the day..!
This event was probably the biggest demonstration of anti-racists in North Staffordshire since the English Defence League came to Hanley in 2010 and NorSCARF joined anti-racists and anti-fascists on the streets to show our opposition.
The scale of today’s protest clearly shows the anger and despair that people all around the world are feeling about the entrenched racism that has become so prominent in recent times. We are living in a moment where the most powerful person in the world – Donald Trump – is a hero to racists and the far right. And in Britain, Boris Johnson and his fellow Tories continue to peddle racist ideas and implement racist policies. In many ways Stoke-on-Trent is no different, as the next Lord Mayor – Melanie Baddeley – is an ex-member of the vehemently racist British National Party. She will have a ceremony on 10th September at which NorSCARF plan to hold a protest; more details will follow, our Facebook and Twitter for updates
Recent events highlight the pressing need for united movements against all kinds of racism and fascism. NorSCARF calls on all people who see the injustices of racism to join with us and all anti-racist movements in saying ‘Enough is enough!’ Whether it be street thugs like Tommy Robinson, racist-in-chief Donald Trump, disproportionate Covid-19 deaths within BAME communities, or murdering police officers. We call on all people to take a stand and make it stop!
NO JUSTICE! NO PEACE!