International day of action for UN Anti-racism Day

On Saturday 20th March anti-racists came together in a global day of action to mark UN Anti-racism Day 2021.

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In the UK, Stand Up To Racism had called for people to co-ordinate different activities, with the main focus being on a #TakeTheKnee action at 1pm. NorSCARF had explored the possibility of holding a socially distanced and risk assessed public gathering along with a number of community and campaign partners. Unfortunately the police and Stoke-on-Trent city council were unwilling to consider an event of this nature and effectively imposed a blanket ban for 24 hours on anti-racist activity within the whole of the city. See the Sentinel article which ran the headline ‘£10k Covid fine threat if anti-racism campaigners ‘take the knee’ outside Hanley Town Hall’ here.

We were therefore forced to suggest people stay at home and post photos of themselves that we could share online. We also joined the #WorldAgainstRacism Twitterstorm and urged people to watch the online events which included a live global link up with 20 different cities and an international online rally, both of which were recorded and can be watched back.

Back in North Staffs, the local ‘It’s Not As Simple As Black and White’ initiative officially launched on the day with a fantastic video and live launch meeting. ASHA North Staffordshire – a local refugee and asylum seeker charity – took part with photos and #TakeTheKnee actions. A young people’s activity pack was also created by local people to help raise awareness of racism and how to fight it. In Stafford, a banner was placed on one of the major ring road roundabouts and local people tied textile hearts with anti-racist messages to the Shire Hall railings.

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As well as the various #TakeTheKnee events in different areas there were also some more traditional protests, marches and even car and bicycle cavalcades! During the evening over 30 civic buildings and landmarks in different cities were lit up with specific colours to help spread awareness.

Stand Up To Racism have put a summary of the day on their website and have now called for a day of action on 22nd May, the Saturday before the twelve month anniversary of the murder of George Floyd by police in the USA.

NorSCARF would like to thank all of those locally who contributed to making UN Anti-racism Day a successful event in North Staffordshire. We hope that much more activity can carry on throughout the coming year and that in 2022 people may be able to join a march through London – or even through North Staffs – to mark the day in a proper loud and proud fashion. In the more immediate term, local elections are going ahead in May and NorSCARF will be helping to campaign against any far right candidates that choose to stand in our area.

If you would like to be more involved in what NorSCARF and local anti-racist groups do, please don’t hesitate to contact us through Facebook, Twitter, or via email – norscarf@yahoo.co.uk. We now also have an Instagram which we would love for people to follow and share, and don’t forget you can still take advantage of our £1 membership fee if you would like to join NorSCARF as a signed up member.

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Tying anti-racist messages to the Stafford Shire Hall railings
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Banner created by campaigners in Stafford
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Stafford banner up on the A34 ring road
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Photos from ASHA North Staffordshire
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#TakeTheKnee in Manchester
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Coventry
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#TakeTheKnee in Sheffield

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